Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Is This "Art" Crap, Anyway?

Photo: Christopher Capozziello/NYT
Harry Shearer shrugs off the question: 
Mr. Shearer shrugged off the question. “Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “Aren’t we 40 years too late for that — didn’t Andy Warhol destroy that question? It’s art because of the fact that it’s happening in an art context.”
So there, Philistines!

Historic Birthdays

Born on this date, died later: Henri Matisse 1869 - 11/3/1954 French painter (Obit.) Jules Styne 1905 - 9/20/1994 American songwriter Nathan Milstein 1903 - 12/21/1992 Russian-born American violinist Elizabeth Arden 1878 - 10/18/1966 Canadian-born American cosmetic executive Ben Jones 1882 - 6/13/1961 American racehorse trainer George C. Marshall 1880 - 10/16/1959 U. S. Army general Robert Aitken 1864 - 10/29/1951 American astronomer Charles Cornwallis 1738 - 10/5/1805 English soldier and statesman Jacques Cartier 1491 - 9/1/1557 French explorer

Show Bidness Yr. Ender

Today in Entertainment History On December 31st, 1943, a near-riot of bobby-soxers in Times Square in New York greeted Frank Sinatra's singing engagement at the Paramount Theater. In 1947, singing cowboy Roy Rogers married Dale Evans. In 1961, the Beach Boys played their first gig in Long Beach, California. They earned $300. In 1969, Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys made its debut in New York. In 1972, the MC5 played its last gig, in Detroit. They were paid $200. In 1973, AC/DC made their concert debut in Sydney, Australia. In 1982, Little Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band got married in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Percy Sledge and Little Richard performed "When A Man Loves A Woman" at the reception. In 1984, drummer Rick Allen of Def Leppard lost his left arm in a car crash near his home in England. Allen stayed with the band, using a special drum kit. In 1985, singer Rick Nelson was killed when fire broke out aboard a private plane that was taking him to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas. His fiancee and five other people were also killed. In 1989, game show host Pat Sajak married former "Playboy" model Lesly Brown in Annapolis, Maryland. In 1991, Gilbert O'Sullivan won his lawsuit against rapper Biz Markie for using a sample of his song "Alone Again (Naturally)" for Markie's song "Alone Again." The case changed the rules of sampling by requiring that all samples be cleared before releasing them on another record. In 2000, Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson married actress Kate Hudson in Aspen, Colorado. They have since divorced. In 2004, singer Natalie Imbruglia married Silverchair singer Daniel Johns in an exclusive resort in Australia. They have since divorced. Also in 2004, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was arrested after he and his son got into a fight with police during a New Year's Eve celebration in Naples, Florida. In 2005, Dick Clark returned to his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" telecast after missing the previous year because he had had a stroke. He was hoarse and sometimes hard to understand, but he said he "wouldn't have missed this for the world." Today's birthdays: TV producer George Schlatter is 79. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 71. Actor Tim Considine ("My Three Sons") is 68. Actress Sarah Miles is 67. Guitarist Andy Summers of The Police is 66. Actor Ben Kingsley is 65. Bassist Pete Quaife (The Kinks) is 65. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 64. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 60. Actor Tim Matheson is 61. Singer Burton Cummings of The Guess Who is 61. Singer Donna Summer is 60.Bassist Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith is 57. Actor James Remar ("Dexter") is 55. Actress Bebe Neuwirth ("Cheers") is 50. Singer Paul Westerberg is 49. Actor Val Kilmer is 49. Guitarist Ric Ivanisevich (ee-van-EE'-sah-vich) of Oleander is 46. Guitarist Scott Ian of Anthrax is 45. Actress Gong Li is 43. Author Nicholas Sparks is 43. Singer-actor Joe McIntyre of New Kids on the Block is 36. Cellist Mikko Siren of Apocalyptica is 33.

Copyright ©2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The End Is Here, Finally!

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 31, the 366th and final day of 2008. [Hoo-ray!! — Ed.] Today's Highlight in History: In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, N.J. On this date: In 1775, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed. In 1857, Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada. In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife, Lucy, celebrated their silver anniversary (actually, a day late) by re-enacting their wedding ceremony in the White House. In 1908, Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was born in Buczacs in what was then Austria-Hungary. In 1946, President Harry S. Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II. [Now we're told that WWII lasted more than a yr. longer than we'd been told? Doesn't bode well for any 16-mo. out-of-Iraq plan, does it? — Ed.] In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years. [Leading directly to the current spate of Pat Boone adverts wherein the old bastard tries to sucker you into getting gold due to the imminent fall of capitalism. — Ed.] In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S. In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, and six other people were killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking the group to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas. In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.) In 1997, Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Ten years ago: Europe's leaders proclaimed a new era as 11 nations merged currencies to create the euro, a shared money they said would boost business, underpin unity and strengthen their role in world affairs. Five years ago: A car bomb ripped through a crowded restaurant hosting a New Year's Eve party in Baghdad, killing eight Iraqis. One year ago: President George W. Bush signed legislation to allow state and local governments to cut investment ties with Sudan because of the violence in Darfur. Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco in 1975, was paroled after 32 years behind bars. Thought for Today: "In masks outrageous and austere, The years go by in single file; But none has merited my fear, And none has quite escaped my smile." — Elinor Wylie, American author (1885-1928). — The Associated Press

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good Idea

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- An atheist who has fought to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance has joined a lawsuit seeking to remove all religious references from President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. 

Michael Newdow believes government references to God or religion are unconstitutional. 

He wants to remove the phrase "so help me God" from the oath of office, noting that it isn't in the oath set out in the Constitution. 

The lawsuit also seeks to block inaugural prayers by the Rev. Rick Warren and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. 

Newdow sued to remove religion from inaugurations in 2001 and 2005 but lost both cases. 

This time, he's joining 17 other plaintiffs, including atheist and humanist organizations.

Associated Press

Oh, can't we leave the Constitution out of this?

Winter Reading List

In case you missed anything over the last yr., Jon Swift apparently solicited various typists  for what they considered their "best" items of the yr.
So if you've nothing to do next yr., you might want to look & catch up

Bits of Yr. End Business

Via The NYT (we're almost impressed) we (& now you) are led to Roy (alicublog) Edroso's Top Ten RW Typist Ninnies of the Yr., in the Village Voice.
And more from The NYT: Media-mediated fuck-ups of 2008. 

Vacuuming The Rug In The Oval Office

Nature, & Dick Cheney, abhor a vacuum.
Lawrence Wilkerson, top aide and later chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said that as a new president, Bush was like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee whom critics said lacked knowledge about foreign affairs. When Bush first came into office, he was surrounded by experienced advisers like Vice President Dick Cheney and Powell, who Wilkerson said ended up playing damage control for the president. "It allowed everybody to believe that this Sarah Palin-like president — because, let's face it, that's what he was — was going to be protected by this national-security elite, tested in the cauldrons of fire," Wilkerson said, adding that he considered Cheney probably the "most astute, bureaucratic entrepreneur" he'd ever met. "He became vice president well before George Bush picked him," Wilkerson said of Cheney. "And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush — personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum."
The lights are on but, etc. Though in this case just the porch light was on.

Up To The Moment, Given The Time Difference

HAARETZ, in Israel, but not blood-thirsty, w/ a wrap-up & analysis.
The diplomatic clock is ticking relatively slowly because both Europe and the United States are all but closed for Christmas and New Year's Day. Meshal has been trying to get the Arab League and Senegal, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to push for a cease-fire. So far, international criticism of Israel has been relatively muted despite the many Palestinian casualties. Even in the Arab world, not everyone is crying over Hamas' losses.
The biorhythms here are ticking pretty damn slowly too.
Hamas officials and analysts said Monday that the organization would actually like Israel to launch a ground operation; it hopes this would let it inflict such heavy losses on Israeli tanks and infantry that Israel would flee with its tail between its legs.
Ah, the ol' "bog' em down." Literally.
However, ground forces are already in place for the next phase. The Gazan mud will make it harder for tanks and armored personnel carriers to maneuver, and Hamas has clearly been preparing its defense for months. Thus any ground operation will entail many casualties, which is one of the government's considerations in deciding how the operation should proceed.
Oh, what do you know? There is some consideration of something here. Not sure what, though.

Will We Be Continually Confronted W/ This Motif For The Next Four Yrs.?

This Wk. In Armageddon

As Israeli tanks, artillery batteries and troops stepped up preparations for a possible ground offensive, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that the attacks wouldn't end until the military had delivered a "severe blow" to Hamas. "We are in an all-out war against Hamas," Barak told a special session of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
Israel Expands List of Targets to Include Group's Vast Support Network in Gaza

"There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel," said a senior Israeli military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"Hamas's civilian infrastructure is a very, very sensitive target. If you want to put pressure on them, this is how," said Matti Steinberg, a former top adviser to Israel's domestic security service and an expert on Islamist organizations.

Golly, in the good old days (mostly lip service, of course, to ideals very far from fulfillment then & now) there would have been whining about attacks on civilian populations, cries of "This isn't very gentlemanly," ad nauseum. Or some mention that deliberate attacks on civilians are, are, oh, what is that word? Mmm ... terrorism, that's right. But if the attacking is done from the air against civilian "infrastructure" (any civilians maimed or killed are therefore collateral infrastructure damage, of course) & someone or another has been quoted as saying it's "all-out war," then it's perfectly acceptable.


GAZA (Reuters) –Israel rejected any truce with Hamas Islamists on Tuesday and said it was ready for "long weeks of action" on a fourth day of the fiercest air offensive in the Gaza Strip in decades. As Israeli armored vehicles and troops were massed along the border for a possible invasion, Israeli warplanes pressed on with strikes, killing 12 Palestinians, including a pair of sisters, aged 10 and 12, in attacks on Hamas targets.
Threatening to back up their shock & awe w/ boots on the ground, are they? Turning quite another cheek. Not nearly as much fun a few thousand klicks east, where rational thought, or simple fear of atomic annihilation, would appear to be holding things together.
On Monday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the country's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani called for calm with India. "Pakistan and India need to engage in dialogue to address their differences," Zardari told visiting Chinese vice foreign minister He Yafei.
Buck up, nihilists. Anything can (&, barring entropy, eventually will) happen in a random, meaningless cosmos.

DonkeyMonkee Show Bidness

On December 30th, 1944, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1962,singer Brenda Lee was slightly injured when she tried to rescue her dog from her burning home in Nashville. The dog died of smoke inhalation. In 1979, composer and lyricist Richard Rodgers died in New York at the age of 77. His musicals include "The King and I" and "The Sound of Music." Also in 1979, Emerson, Lake and Palmer announced they were splitting up. They later reunited. [Tant pis, as the French say. — Ed.] In 1981, XTC played their first American concert, in Philadelphia.
In 1999, an intruder broke into George Harrison's home outside London and stabbed Harrison and his wife. Michael Abram was later found innocent by reason of insanity. Also in 1999, singer Johnny Moore of The Drifters died on his way to a London hospital after having breathing difficulties. He was 64. In 2002, singer Diana Ross was arrested for drunk driving in Tucson, Arizona. — Today's Birthdays: Actor Joseph Bologna is 74. Actor Russ Tamblyn is 74. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax is 73. Actor Jack Riley is 73. Folk singer Paul Stookey is 71. TV director James Burrows is 68. Actor Fred Ward is 66. Singer-musician Michael Nesmith is 66. Singer Davy Jones is 63. [Davy & Mike, Utah 1967(?) — Ed.]Singer Patti Smith is 62. Rock singer-musician Jeff Lynne is 61. "Today Show" co-host Meredith Vieira is 55. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph is 53. Actress Patricia Kalember is 52. Country singer Suzy Bogguss is 52. "Today Show" newscaster Matt Lauer is 51. [That's funny. Lauer's now the co-host w/ Ms. Vieira, who shares his b-day as well as hosting duties. How long's it been since the AP updated any of this? — Ed.] Actress-comedian Tracey Ullman is 49. Rock musician Rob Hotchkiss is 48. Radio-TV commentator Sean Hannity is 47. Runner Ben Johnson is 47. Singer Jay Kay (Jamiroquai) is 39. Rock musician Byron McMackin (Pennywise) is 39. Actress Meredith Monroe is 39. Actor Daniel Sunjata is 37. Actress Maureen Flannigan is 36. Actor Jason Behr is 35. Golfer Tiger Woods is 33. TV personality-boxer Laila Ali is 31. Singer Tyrese is 30. Actress Eliza Dushku is 28.
— The Associated Press

The End is Nigher — This Date in History

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 30, the 365th day of 2008. There is 1 day left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: In 1853, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty under which the US agreed to buy some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico for $10 million in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase. (The area covered by the agreement is located in present-day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.) On this date: In 1813, the British burned Buffalo, N.Y., during the War of 1812. In 1903, about 600 people died when fire broke out at the recently opened Iroquois Theater in Chicago. In 1907, the Mills Commission issued its final report concluding that Abner Doubleday invented baseball — a finding that few sports historians embrace. [Yeah, look it up in the Britannica. They were playing something similar under the name "rounders" in Limeyland long before Abner. — Ed.] In 1922, Vladimir I. Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1936, the United Auto Workers union staged its first "sit-down" strike, at the Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Mich. In 1940, California's first freeway, the Arroyo Seco Parkway connecting Los Angeles and Pasadena, was officially opened. In 1948, the Cole Porter musical "Kiss Me, Kate" opened on Broadway. In 1972, the United States halted its heavy bombing of North Vietnam. In 1994, a gunman walked into a pair of suburban Boston abortion clinics and opened fire, killing two employees and wounding five other people. (John C. Salvi III was later convicted of murder; he died in prison an apparent suicide.) In 2006, Iraqis awoke to news that Saddam Hussein had been hanged; victims of his three decades of autocratic rule took to the streets to celebrate. Ten years ago: Weak but radiant with pride, Nkem Chukwu, the mother of the Houston octuplets, went home from the hospital. Five years ago: The Bush administration announced it was banning the sale of ephedra, and urged consumers to immediately stop using the herbal stimulant linked to 155 deaths and dozens of heart attacks and strokes. Author John Gregory Dunne died in New York City at age 71. One year ago: Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of an election that opponents and observers alleged was rigged; violence flared in Nairobi slums and coastal resort towns, killing scores in the following days. The 19-year-old son of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Zardari, was named symbolic leader of her Pakistan Peoples Party, while Bhutto's widower took effective control. Thought for Today: "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone." — Anonymous. — The Associated Press

Monday, December 29, 2008

Terror & Evangelicalism Mix Very Well

In the continuing effort by Just Another Blog (From L. A.)™ to foment total religious war (A gawdly mission we'd think would be easier, given the current world situation.) we point you to the latest from Xopher Hitchens in Slate, noting "Pastor" Prick Warren's trip to Syria, as first brought to blog-o-spheric attention by bottle-blond attorney-at-law Debbie Schlussel. (One of whose commenters claims Prick W. is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.*) Technically, we'd have to say that it was John Aravosis of AMERICAblog who brought Debbie's second item to the blog-o-sphere's flighty attention, as few spheroids note the issue of Atty. Schlussel's keyboard.
Does Hitch bring us anything new? Enough. How about:
[O]ne has not merely a right but a duty to object to having as an inaugural auxiliary a man who is a pushover for anti-Semitism, Islamic sectarianism, "rapture" theology, fascist dictatorship, 10th-rate media trade-offs, and last-minute panicky self-censorship all at the same time.
That adds something. And certainly no one means to take away from Pastor Prick's astounding multi-tasking ability.
*No indication of Pastor Warren as a presence at the C. F. R. Does that surprise anyone? Granted, the C. F. R. has the usual collection of nasty old white men, & a few nasty old non-white or non-male types who toe the nasty old white male line as if it were their own. That means you, Colin Powell, & you, Madeleine Albright.

The Year

Is Dave Barry funny? Of course not. But we can assume that his WaPo compilation of crap that happened in this drawing-to-a-close-not-a-moment-too-soon yr. will, whatever his take on it, have something amusing, amazing & absurd, & something we'd completely forgotten or never heard until mos. & mos. later. We'll leave it to you to wade through or forge ahead.

The Entertainment Industry Throughout History

On December 29th, 1955, 13-year-old Barbra Streisand made her first recording, "You'll Never Know." In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas. In 1967, musician Dave Mason left the band Traffic to pursue a solo career. In 1975, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane divorced. In 1980, singer-songwriter Tim Hardin died of a heroin overdose in Los Angeles at the age of 40. He's best known for composing the song "If I Were A Carpenter." In 1989, Jane Pauley marked her last day as co-host of the "Today" show after 13 years. Her successor was Deborah Norville. In 1992, actor Todd Bridges was arrested in Burbank, California. Police say they found speed and a loaded gun in his car, but Bridges claimed he had been framed. At the time, Bridges had been doing public service announcements telling kids to stay away from drugs. In 2006, burlesque artist Dita Von Teese filed for divorce from singer Marilyn Manson, citing irreconcilable differences. They had been married barely a year. Today's Birthdays: Actor Clarence Swensen ("The Wizard of Oz") is 91. Actress Inga Swenson is 76. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 71. Actor Jon Voight is 70. Country singer Ed Bruce is 69. Rock musician Ray Thomas (Moody Blues) is 67. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 62. Jockey Laffit Pincay Junior is 62. Actor Ted Danson is 61. Actor Jon Polito is 58. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 57. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 49. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 49. Rock singer-musician Jim Reid (The Jesus and Mary Chain) is 47. Rock singer Dexter Holland (The Offspring) is 43. Actor-comedian Mystro Clark is 42. Actor Jason Gould is 42. Movie director Andy Wachowski is 41. Actress Jennifer Ehle is 39. Rock singer-musician Glen Phillips is 38. Actor Kevin Weisman is 38. Actor Jude Law is 36. Actor Mekhi Phifer is 34. — Associated Press

The End Is Nigh

Today is Monday, Dec. 29, the 364th day of 2008. There are 2 days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: Two hundred years ago, on Dec. 29, 1808, the 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh, N.C. On this date: In 1170, Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II. In 1845, Texas was admitted as the 28th state. In 1851, the first American Young Men's Christian Association was organized, in Boston. In 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took place in South Dakota as an estimated 300 Sioux Indians were killed by US troops sent to disarm them. In 1916, Grigory Rasputin, the so-called "Mad Monk" who'd wielded great influence with Czar Nicholas II, was murdered by a group of Russian noblemen in St. Petersburg. In 1934, Japan formally denounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. In 1940, during World War II, Germany dropped incendiary bombs on London, setting off what came to be known as "The Second Great Fire of London." In 1957, singers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were married in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1975, a bomb exploded in the main terminal of New York's LaGuardia Airport, killing 11 people. In 1978, during the Gator Bowl, Ohio State University coach Woody Hayes punched Clemson player Charlie Bauman, who'd intercepted an Ohio pass. (Hayes was fired by Ohio State the next day.) Ten years ago: Two top Khmer Rouge leaders apologized for the deaths of as many as two million people during their regime in the 1970s, and asked Cambodians to forget the past. Five years ago: Monsignor Michael Courtney, Pope John Paul II's ambassador in Burundi, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen. Actor Earl Hindman, who'd played the mostly unseen neighbor Wilson on "Home Improvement," died in Stamford, Conn., at age 61. One year ago: Australian David Hicks, the first person convicted at an American war crimes trial since World War II, was freed from prison in Adelaide after completing a US-imposed sentence. The New England Patriots ended their regular season with a remarkable 16-0 record following a thrilling 38-35 comeback victory over the New York Giants. (New England became the first NFL team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule.) Today's Birthdays: ABC newscaster Tom Jarriel is 74. Jockey Laffit Pincay Junior is 62. Thought for Today: "Ours is the age of substitutes: Instead of language we have jargon; instead of principles, slogans; and instead of genuine ideas, bright suggestions." -- Eric Bentley, British-born American author and educator. [No fucking shit. But what are we to do about it? — Ed.] — The Associated Press

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Death, Assault, Divorce & Birthdays Are "Entertaining?"

— On December 28th, 1968, The first big East Coast rock festival opened in Miami. Performers at the Miami Pop Festival included Chuck Berry, Country Joe and the Fish and Richie Havens.

In 1976, bluesman Freddie King died in Dallas at age 42. He was a major influence on British rockers like Eric Clapton.

In 1983, Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson drowned while swimming in the harbor at Marina Del Rey, California. He was 39.

In 1991, nine people were killed at a benefit basketball game at City College in New York that featured Run DMC and LL Cool J. The victims were crushed when the crowd surged to get into the gym where the game was to be played.

In 1993, country singer Shania Twain married producer Mutt Lange. They have since divorced.

In 1996, actor Ken Wahl was arrested for allegedly threatening a bartender with a hunting knife in Los Angeles.

In 2005, the body of singer-bassist Barry Cowsill of The Cowsills was found on a New Orleans wharf. He had been missing since Hurricane Katrina three months earlier. Cowsill was 51.

— Today's Birthdays: Actor Lou Jacobi is 95. Comic book creator Stan Lee is 86. Actor Martin Milner is 77. Actress Nichelle Nichols is 76. Actress Dame Maggie Smith is 74. Rock singer-musician Charles Neville is 70. Rock singer-musician Edgar Winter is 62. Rock singer-musician Alex Chilton (The Box Tops; Big Star) is 58. Actor Denzel Washington is 54. Country musician Mike McGuire (Shenandoah) is 50. Actor Chad McQueen is 48. Comedian Seth Meyers is 35. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Legend is 30. Actress Sienna Miller is 27.

— The Associated Press

363 Down, Three to Go

Today is Sunday, Dec. 28, the 363rd day of 2008. There are three days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: One hundred years ago, on Dec. 28, 1908, a major earthquake followed by a tsunami devastated the Italian city of Messina, killing about 70,000 people, although some estimates are much higher. On this date: In 1694, Queen Mary II of England died after more than five years of joint rule with her husband, King William III. In 1832, John C. Calhoun became the first vice president of the United States to resign, stepping down over differences with President Andrew Jackson. In 1846, Iowa became the 29th state to be admitted to the Union. In 1856, the 28th president of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was born in Staunton, Va. In 1897, the play "Cyrano de Bergerac," by Edmond Rostand, premiered in Paris. In 1917, the New York Evening Mail published "A Neglected Anniversary," a facetious, as well as fictitious, essay by H.L. Mencken recounting the history of bathtubs in America. In 1945, Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1958, the Baltimore Colts won the NFL championship, defeating the New York Giants 23-17 in overtime at Yankee Stadium. In 1973, Alexander Solzhenitsyn published "Gulag Archipelago," an expose of the Soviet prison system. In 1987, the bodies of 14 relatives of Ronald Gene Simmons were found at his home near Dover, Ark., following a shooting rampage by Simmons in Russellville that claimed two other lives. (Simmons was later executed.) Ten years ago: American warplanes exchanged missile fire with Iraqi air defenses; President Bill Clinton said there would be no letup in American and British pressure on Saddam Hussein. Four people were killed when fierce gales struck during an Australian yacht race. Two other people disappeared and are presumed to have drowned. Five years ago: Libya for the first time allowed U.N. nuclear officials to inspect four sites related to its nuclear weapons program. One year ago: President George W. Bush used a "pocket veto" to reject a sweeping defense bill because he objected to a provision that would have exposed the Iraqi government to expensive lawsuits seeking damages from the Saddam Hussein era. Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was laid to rest as the country's army tried to quell a frenzy of rioting in the wake of her assassination. Six French charity workers who had been sentenced to eight years' forced labor in Chad for allegedly trying to kidnap 103 children were transferred to French custody. (The workers were later pardoned by Chad's president and set free.) Today's Birthday: Former United Auto Workers union president Owen Bieber is 79. Thought for Today: "The masses gladly take revenge for the honors they render us." — Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). — The Associated Press

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Smiting in Gaza

As promised just a few items below, more war, or "unprecedented waves of air strikes."
Hamas leaders threatened revenge attacks, Israel told its civilians near Gaza to take cover and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for restraint. Egypt opened its border with Gaza to allow ambulances to drive out some of the wounded.
"Raw" footage from the AP, cooked footage from the Beeb. Things still not to a head in South Asia, & cooler heads may even prevail.

Cliche Fest

How many stale old wingnut ideas can you spot in this panel?Perhaps cartoonist Glenn McCoy should have added a character inscribed "Will of The American People" or the like carrying B. O. all by itself to this clever caricature.

That About Which We Could Not Possibly Care Any Fucking Less

Spew From Pew: Gen Nexters, Americans in the 18-25 age bracket, are not afraid to express themselves through their appearance and tattoos are the most popular form of self-expression -- more than one-in-three (36%) now has one. Tattoos, however, are at least as prevalent among the preceding generation of Gen Xers -- 40% of them have a tattoo. Other nontraditional appearance-altering practices are also prevalent among Gen Nexters: About half (54%) have done one or more of the following: gotten a tattoo, dyed their hair an untraditional color, or had a body piercing in a place other than their ear lobe. Roughly a quarter of both Gen Nexters and Gen Xers have dyed their hair an untraditional color. Gender is not a factor in either tatooing or untraditional hair-dyeing -- men and women are about equally likely to have done either -- but body piercing is more common among young women than among their male counterparts and slightly more prevalent among Gen Next than among Gen X: three-in-ten Nexters have had a piercing somewhere other than their ear, compared with 22% of Xers. The generational divide on these measures is between those under age 40 and those over age 40. Among the over 40 crowd, just 21% have engaged in any of these.

Why We Call It X-Mess

Slate shares shots of X-mess excess & oddity from readers. Below, from Melissa Diane Holdren of Chandler, Ariz., who adds, "As a friend of mine said, 'Wow! I think Christmas threw up on that house.' It's like some perverse Where's Waldo—Santa Edition."

Today's "World of Entertainment" Birthdays December 27

Rockabilly musician Scotty Moore is 77. Actor John Amos is 69. Rock musician Mick Jones [The "bad" Mick Jones. — Ed.] (Foreigner) is 64. Singer Tracy Nelson is 64. Actor Gerard Depardieu is 60. Jazz singer-musician T.S. Monk is 59. Singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff is 57. Actress Tovah Feldshuh is 56. Rock musician David Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 56. Actress Maryam D'Abo is 48. Country musician Jeff Bryant is 46. Actor Ian Gomez is 44. Actress Theresa Randle is 44. Actress Eva LaRue is 42. [We had no idea who Eva LaRue was, until we saw the picture & recognized her from one or another of the CSIs. Her greatest crime against nature may actually be those eyebrows. No, up there. — Ed.]

December 27 In Entertaiment History: Gun Trouble

-- On December 27th, 1927, the musical play "Show Boat," with music by Jerome Kern and libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II, opened at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York. In 1947, the children's TV program "Howdy Doody" made its debut on NBC, under the title "Puppet Playhouse."In 1970, "Hello, Dolly!" closed on Broadway after a run of 2,844 performances. It had opened in 1964. In 1985, singer Simon LeBon of Duran Duran and model Yasmin Parvanah got married. In 1992, singer Harry Connick Junior was arrested in New York's Kennedy Airport because an unloaded gun was found in his carry-on bag. He spent a night in jail. In 1999, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Jennifer Lopez were arrested following a shooting at a New York dance club during which three people were shot and wounded. Charges against Lopez were dropped. Combs was acquitted of gun and bribery charges. Associated Press

The Endless Slog Through Time & History: 27 December

Today is Saturday, Dec. 27, the 362nd day of 2008. There are four days left in the year. Today's Highlight in History: Forty years ago, in 1968, Apollo 8 and its three astronauts made a safe, nighttime splashdown in the Pacific. On this date: In 1831, naturalist Charles Darwin set out on a round-the-world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. In 1904, James Barrie's play "Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" opened at the Duke of York's Theater in London. In 1932, Radio City Music Hall opened in New York City. In 1945, 28 nations signed an agreement creating the World Bank. Fifty years ago, in 1958, American physicist James Van Allen reported the discovery of a second radiation belt around Earth, in addition to one found earlier in the year. Thirty years ago, in 1978, Algerian President Houari Boumediene, one of the Third World's most prominent and outspoken leaders, died after 40 days in a coma. In 1979, Soviet forces seized control of Afghanistan. President Hafizullah Amin, who was overthrown and executed, was replaced by Babrak Karmal. In 1985, Palestinian guerrillas opened fire inside the Rome and Vienna airports; a total of 20 people were killed, including four of the attackers, who were slain by police and security personnel. Ten years ago: Six inmates, including four convicted killers, escaped from Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Tennessee. (All were recaptured by the end of the next day.) A week after she was born weighing just 10.3 ounces, the smallest of the Houston octuplets (Chijindu Chidera Louis) died from heart and lung failure. Five years ago: Coordinated rebel assaults in Karbala, Iraq, killed 13 people, including six coalition soldiers. Actor Alan Bates died in London at age 69. One year ago: Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan by an attacker who shot her after a campaign rally and then blew himself up. Kenya held an election pitting incumbent president Mwai Kibaki against opposition candidate Raila Odinga; both candidates ended up claiming victory in a vote that observers said was seriously flawed. Today's Birthdays: Former U.S. Sen. James A. McClure, R-Idaho, is 84. ABC News correspondent Cokie Roberts is 65. Journalist-turned-politician Arthur Kent is 55.
Thought for Today: "I'm not young enough to know everything." — Sir James Matthew Barrie, Scottish dramatist-author (1860-1937).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Glimpse Into The Future

Balls & Bats

Why, no, patriarchy & testosterone aren't a problem in this world of macho assholes & war in which we exist.
Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan A sixty yr.-old w/ four younger wives should be left to be worn to a nub, not encouraged in this sort of anti-Rick Warren behavior. "Soft bigotry of low expectations" Dep't.:
"If you give an asset $1,000, he'll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone," said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. "Even if he doesn't get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it."
An "asset." A real fucking "human resource," huh?
"You didn't hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones," said one retired operative familiar with the drug's use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often had four wives -- the maximum number allowed by the Koran -- and aging village patriarchs were easily sold on the utility of a pill that could "put them back in an authoritative position," the official said.
As soon as one's little Mohammed is working again, one is "back in an authoritative position?" Our inability to transcend biology has left us w/ a wonderful world, hasn't it?

Of Course Pastor Rick Is An Egomaniac Who Thinks He's Jesus

Stop reading. It hurts your brain & eyes. Watch telebsion instead. It's soothing. Here, for example, Katha Pollitt & Rachel Maddow discuss Pastor Rick Warren's line of crap.
Ms. Pollitt suggests rooting about in the Saddleback Church's website. As a convenience to you, the information consumer, we provide a link thereto. And waste a sentence telling you so (& a parenthetical clause getting extra "meta" on it).

Two Tens = One Score

It would be a little obvious (& too damn much work) to compile a Top Ten Top Ten Lists List.  So we'll dole them out as we find them. Here are a brace of yr.-enders, TEN THINGS THAT SUCKED OUT LOUD IN 2008, MEDIA EDITION from a guy @ HuffPo. (Pull quote:
 let's skip ahead to a listicle of lowlights, which is probably what you all really want anyway, since everyone runs on schadenfreude these days and is filled with impotent rage!
Yeah daddy!)
& The Top 10 New Organisms of 2008, from Wired. Our favorite organism of the ten? Just for the irony, we'll go w/ Megadyptes waitaha. Though the micro-mini-snake is neat as well.

Ad hominem Attack on The Entire Political Right

Just minutes ago, it seems, we were noting Newsbusters' uh ... troglodytic, audience. We weren't kidding, either. 
For absolute evidence of audience difference & superiority, compare submissions in this caption contest (winners here, we modestly add) with the fountain of wit spurting from readers of the "Weekend Captionfest." Granted, World O' Crap's photo doesn't have the possibilities for gender & race humor that the Newsbusters photo offers (Why does that not surprise us? "Look, no white men. Aaahhgh!") but, were an objective observer possible, it would have to determine that We, The Left, were not only more intelligent & knowledgeable, but, most important, funnier. Yes. 
Us. The Good Guys. The decent, truly compassionate people.Well, let's not get too carried away.

Let's Have Two Wars, So You Can Go Die Twice!!

If, like so many of our readers, you've been spending the day after X-mess in a hungover stupor lying there, moaning, & watching athletic competition on telebision, you may not be aware that post-holiday tensions (Not really; none of these fortresses of religio-fascist-nationalism have much interest in Xianity & its bullshit rituals. They have their own religious lies to celebrate.) are increasing world-wide.

"Combat Troops"

Generational hate-monger Ted Rall switches from his elders & betters to picking on someone in his own age cohort, the lying Prez-elect. Calls him a "weasel."
Germans are organized. The French are snotty. Americans have a national character trait, too: inattention. It's now obvious that Obama exploited our hard-wired inability to read between the lines to lay the groundwork for what many of his supporters will soon view as a terrible betrayal.
Damn, Ted, you think so?
Seems clear. End means end. Finito. No more. But there's an interesting phrase in Obama's promises to pull out, repeated throughout the campaign": "combat troops." "We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated," he wrote in his op/ed. "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades." "It's time to end this war," Obama concluded. Ending the war would mean following the political cartoonist Matt Bors' prescription: The troops would go to the airport. They would board planes. They would fly away. But Obama doesn't want to end the war. Obama will classify some units as "combat troops" and send them to Afghanistan, which he wants to expand into an even bigger war. But tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of troops, will remain in Iraq, killing and getting killed.
Lied to by a politician. When do the rivers start running uphill?

Newsweek Necrology

In alphabetical order, the Top 40 Dead People of 2008, per the Avis Rent-A-Car of the wkly. news rags. 

Christmastime for Hitler?

Christmas With the Nazis: WWII Films Proliferate at Year's End Oh, horrid menace of liberal fascism. What is the deadly secret of the Nazis? What secret info will Newsbusters creator & executive editor Matthew Sheffield reveal to us about Hollywood's machinations? (Mostly quotes from this AP item, that's what.)
You could have bet several farms that we were expecting there to be something about the people (or is it a "tribe?") who control Hollywood. (When will we hear the complaints about the number of Anglo dudes in the oil business, or running airlines & auto companies? Ah, never mind.) The big secret of why,
during what's supposed to be the cheeriest time of year, this abundance of stories from one of humanity's darkest hours?
turns out not to be that the You Know Whos are trying to subvert Christmas w/ bummer fare, but
"Much of it is awards-driven," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, which tracks box-office totals. "Downer movies come out this time of year as a reflection of the fact that people are vying for Oscars."
As Newsbusters is bent on “Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias” we have to peg their audience/viewership, whatever it's called in the still-to-make-a-profit new media age, as troglodytes. Perception of "leftist/liberal elite" media bias in the United Snakes should probably be classified as a psychiatric condition of some type. Or they're just plain dense. But we didn't think WWII/Nazi cinema at this "cheery" time would have to be explained to anyone who can navigate to Newsbusters in the first place.

A Public Service Announcement From The SoCal Tourism Council

Now look, we allow you people (you know who you are) to visit our little paradise every yr. about this time, usually in conjunction w/ a land grant university from your frost-bitten state having earned the privilege of having it's lunch handed to it by the Trojans or another manly sort of Pac-10 football colossus in the Rose Bowl, but remember, you don't have to go home by the wknd. after New Yr.'s Day, but you must leave Southern California. (Authorities will be searching hotels, motels, & relatives' houses for stragglers. Be warned!) So to save you (& your rental car) from wandering endlessly through the streets of the celebrity districts, we'll let you all in on the biggest bang for your map-to-the-stars-homes buck, one little street in Beverly Hills, where Jack Benny & Lucille Ball lived next door to each other, & the world was a happier & simpler (or so it's claimed) place.
1000 N. ROXBURY.
At 1000 Roxbury Drive is the former home of LUCILLE BALL, star of "I Love Lucy." It's a beautiful, gray & white, modern colonial home, with large, rounded hedges out front. Lucy used to personally hand out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

1002 N. ROXBURY.

Right next door, at 1002 Roxbury is the longtime home of comedian JACK BENNY, a wonderful brick home, with a large bay window, and brick walkways. Back in 1944, Jack and his wife Mary set up a huge tent in their back yard for a New Year's Eve party, which was attended by (among others) Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Errol Flynn, Ginger Rogers,Tyrone Power, Claudette Colbert, Dorothy Lamour, Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford,Sam Goldwyn and David O. Selznick!

Boxing Day B-Days

Today's Birthdays:

Actor Donald Moffat is 78. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on TV's "Sesame Street") is 75. Rhythm-and-blues singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 73. Record producer Phil Spector is 68. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 63. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 62. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 61. All-Star baseball player Chris Chambliss is 60. Humorist David Sedaris is 52. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 46. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 46. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 45. Actress Nadia Dajani is 43. [No real idea who she is, but at least we aren't posting picures of women young enough to be our daughters. — Ed.]Rock musician J is 41. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 41.

Associated Press

Entertainment Boxing Day

On December 26th, 1944, Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed publicly in Chicago. In 1955, Decca Records released "See You Later, Alligator" by Bill Haley and the Comets. In 1957, Elvis Presley got a temporary draft deferment so he could finish the movie "King Creole." In 1963, Capitol Records released the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles, which became the band's first number one hit in the US. In 1967, The Beatles film "Magical Mystery Tour" premiered on BBC television. In 1968, Led Zeppelin played its first US show, opening for Vanilla Fudge. In 1973, "The Exorcist" made its premiere nationwide.In 1974, comedian Jack Benny died. He was 80. [The King of Radio & Telebision for over thirty yrs. Here are Jack & the cast in April 1942, recording the "Jack Benny Show" before an audience of soldiers. — Ed.] In 1999, musician Curtis Mayfield died outside Atlanta at the age of 57. Associated Press

At Last, Another Day Closer To The End, & What's Happened On Boxing Day Throughout Western History

Today is Friday, Dec. 26, the 361st day of 2008. There are five days left in the year. The seven-day African-American holiday Kwanzaa begins today. This is Boxing Day. Today's Highlight in History: One hundred years ago, on Dec. 26, 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. (Johnson's victory sparked a search for a "great white hope" who would reclaim the title; Jess Willard accomplished the feat in 1915.) On this date: In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War. In 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen." In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation's railroads. In 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division. In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths. In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88. In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved, despite a widely publicized "confession" by John Mark Karr.) In 2004, more than 200,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean. In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford died in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at age 93. Ten years ago: President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, urged Congress to lower the blood-alcohol limit for drunken driving nationwide to .08 percent. Five years ago: An earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people. Three snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Provo Canyon, Utah. [Equivalence of wog & snowboarder lives noted, AP. — Ed.] One year ago: Six people were found dead at a rural property east of Seattle; the property owners' daughter and her boyfriend were arrested. (Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe face charges of aggravated first-degree murder in the shootings of three generations of Anderson's family.) Francesca Lewis, the sole survivor of a plane crash in Panama, was reunited with her family after rescue workers brought the 12-year-old American girl out of a remote mountain area. Joe Dolan, one of Ireland's first pop music stars, died in suburban Dublin at age 68. Thought for Today: "What you cannot find on earth is not worth seeking." — Norman Douglas, Scottish author (1868-1952).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

War W/o End, Amen

Christmas Is A Killer

Eartha Kitt. Harold PinterSanta himself. And as one might expect, a bomb killed four people in Baghdad.

Moonlight On Vermont

Forty yrs. ago:

It hadn't been a very good year.

Nineteen-sixty-eight saw [...] the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, riots across the world and the My Lai massacre.

But on Christmas Eve, Americans turned on their TVs to see perhaps the first good news all year: The Apollo 8 astronauts [...] as they became the first humans to orbit the moon.

He Hasn't Brought It Back Yet, Either

They Call It Art

Do that click thing you do here for "fun" (for lack of a better word) paintings of this yr.'s candidates. A sample:Artiste Zina Saunders (Related to "Metal Mike" Saunders?) has a page.

B. O. Moooslim UPDATE!!

More lies, as he eats pork!! When will the AmeriKKKan people wise up? This Obama guy is out-slicking Slick Willie Clinton.

Obamas to have turkey, ham for Christmas

HONOLULU (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama and his family planned a Christmas Day that includes opening presents in the morning and sharing a traditional turkey and ham dinner in the evening.

You can't believe a word that man says.

Coming next: Obama Goes to Church, Last Nail in His Coffin of Deception.

There You Have It

The incontrovertible evidence is in: Barack Obama, the 44th President-in-waiting, is, indeed, Muslim. What newer proof could we have? This! Now deny it, radical progressive Unreal Americans!!

(CNN) — While President-elect Barack Obama will certainly be making history when he takes the oath of office on January 20, he'll also be repeating it -- by placing his hand on the same Bible Abraham Lincoln used during the inauguration of 1861.

The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.
(The 1861 Lincoln Inaugural Bible against the backdrop of the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.)
The Constitution does not require presidents to be sworn in on a Bible, though almost every chief executive since George Washington has chosen to do so.
See? See? He's lying again! Absolute proof! Oh, & Chicago political machine, if we didn't mention it!

How Long Must We Wait 'Til The Civil Unrest? Not as Long as One Might Expect

The foreclosed-upon masses have begun looting.
We imagine the wailing has been going on for some time now, so we only need shooting to complete the trifecta. Bankers take cover!

Another Angle on The Invocator

Max Blumenthal at The Nation looks into the mind of the goateed dude some call "America's Pastor," who finds himself in the darnedest places.Merry Christmas from "Pastor" Rick Warren!

Amusing Headline of An Indeterminate Time Period

Weapons, ammo, pants seized at Burress' NJ home

Get those pants!

In Entertainment Today, 25 December

In 1946, actor W.C. Fields died. He was 67. [Missed to this date. — Ed.] In 1959, future Beatles drummer Ringo Starr got his first set of drums as a Christmas present. He was working as an apprentice engineer at the time. In 1964, George Harrison's girlfriend, Patti Boyd, was attacked by jealous female fans at a Beatles show in London. [Didn't Eric Clapton attack her a few yrs. later? — Ed.] Forty years ago, in 1968, singer-guitarist Eric Bloom joined Blue Öyster Cult. [Except they were known as Soft White Underbelly in 1968, Associated Press! – Ed.] In 1976, The Eagles' album "Hotel California" went platinum. [We so despise the Eagles that we present this current photo of them, on death's door, & not a moment too soon. Look how old & wretched these bastards are. Yuck! — Ed.] In 1977, comedian Charlie Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88. Thirty years ago, in 1978, Public Image Limited performed for the first time in London. In 1981, the J. Geils Band performed a Christmas concert for the inmates at a correction center near Boston. A few days later, their "Freeze Frame" album went gold. In 1991, Willie Nelson's 33-year-old son Billy was found dead at his home in suburban Nashville. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging, & "The Prince of Tides," directed by Barbra Streisand, opened nationwide. In 1995, entertainer Dean Martin died of respiratory failure at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 78. Ten years ago, in 1998, guitarist Bryan MacLean of Love died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 52. In 1999, comedian Jerry Seinfeld married public relations executive Jessica Sklar in New York. In 2006, James Brown died at an Atlanta hospital. He was 73. X-mess Birthdays: Singer Tony Martin is 95. Actor Dick Miller is 80. Actress Hanna Schygulla is 65. Rhythm-and-blues singer John Edwards (The Spinners) is 64. Actor Gary Sandy is 63. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 62. Football Hall-of-Famer Larry Csonka is 62. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 60. Actress Sissy Spacek is 59. Actress CCH Pounder is 56. Singer Annie Lennox is 54. Reggae singer-musician Robin Campbell (UB40) is 54. Singer Shane MacGowan (The Popes) is 51. Baseball player Rickey Henderson is 50. Actress Klea Scott is 40. Singer Dido is 37.

Actual Events that Occured on Christmas Day by The Associated Press

AP - 1 hour 20 minutes ago
Today is Thursday, Dec. 25, the 360th day of 2008. There are six days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History:
One Hundred and Ninety years ago, in 1818, "Silent Night," written by Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
On this date:
In 336, the first recorded celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25 took place in Rome.
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England. [Marking the first step in a long struggle to civilization by the English. — Ed.]
In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, N.J.
In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito. (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later.)
In 1941, during World War II, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.
In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising. [Off w/ their heads! — Ed.]
In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.
Ten years ago: British mogul Richard Branson, American millionaire Steve Fossett and Per Lindstrand of Sweden gave up their attempt to make the first non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight seven days into their journey, ditching off Hawaii.
Five years ago: Sixteen people were killed by mudslides that swept over campgrounds in California's San Bernardino Valley. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf survived a second assassination bid in 11 days, but 16 other people, including three suicide bombers, were killed. A plane crashed after taking off from Benin, killing at least 130 of the 161 people aboard. Europe's tiny Mars lander, the Beagle 2, was supposed to go into orbit around the Red Planet, but the craft was lost.
In 2006, James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died of heart failure in Atlanta at age 73.
One year ago: A tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped her enclosure and killed a park visitor; two brothers also were mauled, but survived. Russia's military successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. A ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded near Nigeria's main city of Lagos, killing at least 40 people.
Thought for Today: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" — Bob Hope, American comedian (1903-2003).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Buffoonery for 24 December: Bad Day for Doobie Bros.

In 1954, singer Johnny Ace shot himself and died while playing Russian roulette backstage at a show in Houston. His song "Pledging My Love" became a hit the next year. In 1961, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens became the first African song to reach number one on the American pop charts. In 1965, The Beatles earned a gold record for the album "Rubber Soul," just two-and-a-half weeks after it was released. In 1972, police in Miami cut short a concert by Manfred Mann and his Earth Band. Fans rioted for about two hours while the band members hid in a dressing room. In 1973, Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers was arrested in Visalia, California, for marijuana possession. In 1978, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA separated after seven years of marriage. In 1984, actor Peter Lawford died. He was 61. In 1990, actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got married in Colorado. They had met while filming "Days of Thunder." They've since divorced. In 1992, former Doobie Brothers percussionist Bobby LaKind died after a long battle with cancer. He was 47. In 1997, the Gin Blossoms announced their breakup. Associated Press

This Date in History - 24 December: The Ace of Spades Is 63

The Associated Press – Wed Dec 24, 12:01 am ET Today is Wednesday, Dec. 24, the 359th day of 2008. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve. Today's Highlight in History: Forty years ago, in 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast that featured live images of Earth. On this date: In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama — who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India — died in Cochin, India. In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium. In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes. In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan. In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt. In 1908, citing morality concerns, New York Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. temporarily closed the city's movie theaters. (The action gave rise to creation of a motion picture censorship board.) In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord. In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC-TV. In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity. In 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of "positive thinking," died in Pawling, N.Y., at age 95. Ten years ago: Ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo. Most of California's citrus crop was considered ruined after three straight nights of freezing cold. Five years ago: A roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad, killing three U.S. soldiers in the deadliest attack on Americans to that time following Saddam Hussein's capture. Talk show host David Letterman visited U.S. troops in Baghdad. Air France canceled several flights to the United States after U.S. officials passed on what were termed "credible" security threats. One year ago: President Bush made Christmas Eve calls to 10 U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other spots around the world, thanking them for their sacrifice and wishing them a happy holiday. French news cameraman Gwen Le Gouil, abducted by Somali gunmen Dec. 16 outside the town of Bossaso, was released. Today's Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 88. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 81. Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 68. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 64. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 63.Actor Grand L. Bush is 53. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 53. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 52. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, is 51. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 51. Designer Kate Spade is 46. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 45. Actor Mark Valley is 44. Actor Diedrich Bader is 42. Singer Ricky Martin is 37. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 34. Thought for Today: "Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." — The Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). [This stupid son of a bitch should have died much, much sooner. — Ed.]