COUNTRY December 18, 2014

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Audio Bits & Breaks Country Prep Datebook Datebook Tomorrow Entertainment Fun & Games Image of the Day Joke of the Day! Last Minute Items News & Nuggets News Attack Number for the Day Television Video of the Day Wacky-But-True 


DATEBOOK: DECEMBER 18, 2014

This is day 352 of 2014. There are 13 days remaining.

BIRTHDAYS

• Roger Mosley (helicopter pilot Theodore “T.C.” Calvin on Magnum, P.I.) is 76

• Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is 71

• Steven Spielberg is 68

• Movie critic Leonard Maltin is 64

• Ray Liotta is 59

• Comedian Ron White is 58

• Brad Pitt is 51

• Wrestler/actor “Stone Cold” Steve Austin is 50

• Rachel Griffiths (Brothers and Sisters, Six Feet Under) is 46

• Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time) is 36

• Katie Holmes is 36

• Christina Aguilera is 34

IT HAPPENED TODAY

• 1865: The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by Georgia, fulfilling the two-thirds requirement for ratification, and banning slavery in the United States.

• 1932: The Chicago Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 in the first ever NFL Championship Game. Because of a blizzard, the game was moved from Wrigley Field to the Chicago Stadium, the field measuring 60 yards long.

• 1984: Madonna scored her first number one pop hit with “Like a Virgin.”

• 1995: Houston police warned residents that a con man already had sold $25-thousand worth of water he claimed astronauts brought back from the moon. NASA assured police there was no such thing as “moon water.”

• 1996: The Oakland, California, school board passed a resolution officially declaring “Ebonics” a language or dialect.

• 1997: Comedian Chris Farley was found dead in his Chicago apartment. He was 33 years old.

• 1999: Environmentalist Julia ”Butterfly” Hill came down after living two years in the top of an ancient redwood tree in Humboldt County, California, to protest logging.

• 2004: The U.S. officially forgave all of the $4.1 billion owed the government by Iraq and urged other creditors to do the same.

• 2005: A motorist ran over the Nativity scene at a church in Watsontown, Pennsylvania. Sadly, the same thing happened the year before.

• 2006: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned; Robert Gates was sworn in as the new Secretary of Defense.

• 2012: Signatures on an online card for Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims surpassed 1 million.Rock Hall of Famer Keith Richards is 70

SPECIAL EVENTS

• Answer The Telephone Like Buddy The Elf Day

• National Regifting Day. Turn your workplace gift exchange into a regifting party.

• Bake Cookies Day

• I Love Honey Day

UPCOMING

• Winter begins: December 21 (Sunday, 6:03pm ET)

• Christmas Day: December 25 (Thursday)

• New Year’s Day: January 1 (Thursday)

• January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Tuesday)

• January 31: Chinese New Year (Saturday)

• Groundhog Day: February 2 (Monday)

• Valentine’s Day: February 14 (Saturday)

• President’s Day: February 17 (Tuesday)

More holidays

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NUMBER FOR THE DAY

32: U.S. states that grow apples commercially.

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NEWS ATTACK!

The Sony email hack reveals that Alex Trebek threatened to quit over a dispute with executives. [Until the email leak the world never knew how close it came to Jeopardy! being hosted by Larry The Cable Guy.]

Angelina Jolie revealed that she and Brad hired a cybersecurity team to keep their kids from trouble online. [My parents had a similar security detail — my tattletale little sister. ]

Beyonce is being sued by a Hungarian folk singer for allegedly sampling the vocals from one of her recordings. [Who could resist? You know how crazy American teens are for good Hungarian folk songs.]

They’re gonna dump 18,000 tons of concrete into the Gulf of Mexico to create an artificial reef that will protect the shore and provide a home for wildlife.  The project is sponsored by BP Oil. [For a change BP is dumping something beneficial into the ocean. ]

New research indicates that as long as your total carb intake is low it may not matter what kind of carbs you consume. [Decisions. Decisions.The rice cakes or the cheesefries?]

NASA says that its data shows that to replace all the water California lost during the drought you’d have to fill the Rose Bowl 130,000 times. [That would be almost as big a leak as the Sony email hack.]

More states are considering banning powdered alcohol. [Well, there goes my idea for a new cake mix.]

A humanoid robot traveled as a passenger aboard a commercial flight out of L.A. the other day. [It would be nice to sit next to someone who doesn’t have to go to the bathroom every five minutes. ]

A shortage means that McDonald’s in Japan is having to ration french fries. [You wouldn’t believe what they’re going for on eBay.]

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NEWS & NUGGETS

THE US IS READY TO BLAME NORTH KOREA FOR THE SONY HACK _ Reports say the US government is planning to announce today (Thursday) that North Korea is directly to blame for the devastating and unprecedented attack on Sony. A source says US investigators have been able to analyze enough evidence to claim that North Korea is “centrally involved.”

TEXAS PLUMBER SEES HIS OLD TRUCK IN THE HANDS OF SYRIAN TERRORISTS _  They say No publicity is bad publicity, but a Texas City, Texas, plumber probably disagrees with that statement: a photo of his old truck, complete with his company’s logo and phone number still on the door, showed up on the social media account of a Syrian terrorist group, with the terrorists using the old truck as a mobile artillery platform. Mark Oberholtzer, owner of Mark-1 Plumbing, traded in his Ford F-250 pickup truck years ago and promptly forgot about it. Until he began getting phone calls accusing him of supporting Syrian terrorists. It turns out a Syrian terrorist organization known as Ansar al-Deen Front posted a propaganda video on social media with the truck in it, complete with jihadists shooting artillery out the back as the truck drives through the Syrian countryside. Oberholtzer says his business has received over a thousand faxes and phone calls, some accusing him of supporting terrorism in Syria.

… The plumber traded in his old truck at AutoNation; an AutoNation spokesperson claims they have no knowledge of how the truck wound up in Syria — only that it was sent to an auction house.

PICTURE OF BILL CLINTON WITH YOUNG BLONDE GOES VIRAL _ Is Bill Clinton up to his old tricks? A photo of the former president standing next to the wife and daughter of a New York City grocery tycoon has gone viral — because of the daughter’s large chest and low-cut dress. Gristedes Foods CEO John Catsimatidis is reportedly a long-time supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton and even lets them hitchhike on his private jet from time to time. The billionaire businessman helped raise about $750,000 for Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign. This Bill Clinton image ran wild across social media — and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why.

BMW IS DEVELOPING A CAR THAT CAN BE PARKED VIA SMARTWATCH _ BMW is developing a remote-control valet parking system for cars that can be operated by a smartwatch. The sensor-filled BMW i3 car, which will be on display at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas in January, integrates with a smartwatch and can essentially self-park. According to the company, a driver could activate the “Remote Valet Parking Assistant” via an app, which then guides the vehicle to a parking spot all by itself.

YOU CAN NOW ENTER THE U.S. WITH $100 WORTH OF CUBAN CIGARS _ Rolled up in the list of changes to U.S.-Cuba policy announced on Wednesday was a win for cigar-lovers: American travelers who visit Cuba will be allowed to enter the U.S. with $400 worth of goods — $100 of which can consist of Cuban cigars and booze. That’ll get you about five decent Cuban cigars. The cigars that are brought back to the U.S. will be for personal use only — meaning you still won’t find them in stores — and travelers will no longer face $250,000 fines and up to 10 years in prison.

TWO PROFESSORS SET A NEW UNDERWATER LIVING RECORD _ Jessica Fain and Bruce Cantrell slowly emerged from the cool Florida water on Monday. They had just spent a record-breaking 73 days living in an underwater habitat. More than two months ago, the community college professors dove beneath the surface aiming to set a new world record for the longest time spent living underwater, all the while teaching from their “Classroom Under the Sea.” The task required a combination of social isolation and physical endurance, living under pressure and breathing in a mix of gases that substitute for the air they were used to on the surface. The professors — he is 63, she is 25 — slept in 10-by-8-foot air-conditioned cylinders that served as bedrooms. Windows gave them a glimpse of underwater life. Their air, water and and power were pumped in through an “umbilical cord” connected to the Command Center on land. They broke a record set in 1992 by “aquanaut” Richard Presley, who held the world record after spending 69 days underwater.

DOG SWIMS 1½ MILES DURING STORM TO REUNITE WITH OWNER _A Sausalito, California, man whose home on the water sank during last week’s brutal California storm was reunited with his dog that somehow survived the sinking, and swam to shore. Steve Alioto had everything he loved on his boat, anchored out because he couldn’t afford a dock. He returned to the boat after helping a friend during Thursday’s storm to find his home had sunk. Steve thought his dog, named Daisy, had gone down with the ship, but she had escaped and found her way to shore. After swimming a mile and a half to shore in the storm, in the dark, Daisy found a church where she and Steve sometimes get a free meal. Steve happened to be there Friday after the storm. Daisy and Steve are now homeless, staying on a friend’s boat for the time being.

BOY RAISES $1 MILLION TO HELP RESEARCH BEST FRIEND’S RARE DISEASE _ Most kids would do anything for their best friend and Dylan Siegel of Philadelphia is no exception. The 8-year-old boy has raised $1 million to help research the rare disease afflicting his best friend. Dylan’s best friend Jonah Pournazarian is one of 500 children in the world suffering from glycogen storage disease type 1B, a liver disorder that has no cure. Back when the boys were 6, Dylan wanted to help raise money to find a cure. His book, “Chocolate Bar” has sold nearly 25,000 copies in 60 countries and, as of this week, has raised $1 million.

STUDENT RAISES $33K FOR HOMELESS MAN WHO HELPED HER _ This is an update on the college student in England who didn’t have enough money for cab fair and was offered help by a homeless man. Dominique Harrison-Bentzen said she would spend 24 hours on the streets with the man, named Robbie, in an effort to raise money to get him out of the cold. Well it worked — she raised nearly $33,000.

STUDENTS WANT A ‘PASS’ ON FAILING GRADES BECAUSE THEY WERE PROTESTING _ Imagine you have a full time job and you want to take some time off to go protest something. And maybe the boss is cool with you taking a sick day or two to do your protesting. What a cool boss! But then he’s all like, “Hey, time to come back to work ’cause we got things to do.” And you’re all like, “Uh, no, I’m staying out here protesting.” Think your job will be there when you’re’ done protesting?

… Students at Oberlin College in Ohio are seeking a “pass” when it comes to this semester’s grades. Many of the students have been out protesting since the summer and missed important classes and assignments. As a result, many may end up flunking their course. Students asked Oberlin’s president to suspend the standard grading system, but he said he won’t.

MAN FINDS WOMAN FOR AROUND THE WORLD TRIP _ Remember the viral story about Jordan Axani who purchased plane tickets for an “around the world” vacation with his girlfriend for the holidays, only to get dumped by his lover a couple months before the already-paid-for trip? The breakup left Axani with multiple plane tickets for a woman that would not be taking the trip with him. Axani took to Reddit to attempt to find another Canadian woman with the name Elizabeth Gallagher that would like a free trip around the world. It looks like Axani found his new Elizabeth Gallagher, but she has a boyfriend and he is less than thrilled about the trip.

… The trip includes stops in Milan, Prague, Paris, Bangkok, and New Dehli. Axani admitted that once the breakup occurred he stopped planning the trip. Therefore, the other Elizabeth Gallagher would be on her own for finding hotel stays or trains needed on the trip.

… After the story went viral, Marriott International made an offer to provide free hotel rooms to Axani and his flight companion should he make the trip. The company is providing two separate rooms.

… The new Elizabeth Gallagher says her boyfriends “understands that I’ve always wanted to travel so while he’s not happy I’m taking off for nearly a month at Christmas with a random guy he’s smiling through it.”

… Axani claims to have received some very odd propositions from people, both male and female, who said they would be willing to legally change their name in order to take the trip. However, Axani said he “picked Gallagher, a homeless shelter volunteer, after talking with her on the phone and becoming impressed with her social conscience.” The pair are scheduled to depart on the journey on Sunday (December 21).

BAKE AND BEND: YOGA CLASS ADDS POT TO PRACTICE _ A San Francisco yoga studio is advertising for students wishing to “elevate” their practice of deep stretching and relaxation. Ganja Yoga starts each class with a 15 minute smoking session for students with a medical marijuana card. The cardless are welcomed to get high before coming to class. According to yoga instructor Dee Dessault, the “enhanced yoga and tantra journeys are opportunities for you to enjoy trippy relaxation, pain-relief, sensuality, and the cultivation of inner peace.”

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WACKY-BUT-TRUE

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: JOHNS HOPKINS MISTAKENLY SAYS ‘YES’ TO REJECTED APPLICANTS _ Some applicants who were rejected by Johns Hopkins University got a surprise email Sunday that said they were accepted. Around 290 who had been turned down or deferred in their bid for early admission to the prestigious private university in Baltimore received a welcome-to-Hopkins email by mistake. The university sent an apology Sunday evening to those affected by the goof.

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: CHEATING COUPLE LEFT NAKED IN PARKING LOT _ After a 29-year-old Chinese woman discovered that her husband was cheating on her with her twin sister, she tracked down the duo at a local shopping center. Once she arrived, she found the duo naked inside a parked car. When the cheaters were chased out of the car by the angry twin, the woman got in and drove away. Onlookers captured the nude cheaters stranded in the middle of a parking lot without any clothes on.

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: DISPOSING OF 440 POUNDS OF PORN IS DIFFICULT _ Where does one put 440 pounds of porn? Probably nowhere around the house. But it has to go somewhere. The public park doesn’t make much sense. A guy in Japan was spotted unloading 17 sacks of films and magazines, which included around 500 VHS video tapes, from the back of a truck at a small park in the western Japanese city of Osaka. The 70-year-old was arrested on suspicion of illegally dumping 440 pounds of porn, but was released the next day after telling police he had found the stash in a storage unit belonging to a bedridden friend.

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: POLICE FIND HEROIN IN TODDLER’S DIAPER _ Narcotics detectives in a Birmingham, Alabama, suburb pulled over a car driven by Kenneth Bell on suspicion he was moving drugs. A drug-sniffing dog detected the presence of narcotics in the car, and police ordered Bell, his two daughters and their mother out of the vehicle. Bell’s elder daughter then told detectives that daddy put something in sister’s diaper. After police had the girls’ mother undress the toddler they saw a bulge in her diaper caused by a bag of heroin.

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ON TELEVISION

THE BIG BANG THEORY (8p ET, CBS) — Repeat

THE TASTE (8p ET, ABC) — A new, 2-hour edition.

THE BIGGEST LOSER (8p ET, NBC) — The remaining contestants travel to Hawaii in this new edition.

BONES (8p ET, FOX) — Two repeats air back to back.

THE IHEARTRADIO JINGLE BALL 2014 (8p ET, CW) — This concert at Madison Square Garden includes performances by Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea.

MOM (8:30p ET, CBS) — New

PEOPLE MAGAZINE AWARDS (9p ET, NBC) — This two hour special will include performances from 5 Seconds of Summer and Maroon 5. Celebrities scheduled to appear include Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Hart, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton and Jennifer Lopez.

TWO AND A HALF MEN (9p ET, CBS) — Melanie Lynskey returns as Rose in this new episode.

SERIES FINALE: WHITE COLLAR (9p ET, USA) — After 6 seasons, White Collar says goodbye tonight.

PROJECT RUNWAY ALL STARS (9p ET, Lifetime) — The designers must create looks for Match.com singles to wear on first dates. Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) is the guest judge.

THE MCCARTHYS (9:30p ET, CBS) — Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother) and Gilles Marini guest star in this new episode.

ELEMENTARY (10p ET, CBS) — New

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER (10p ET, ABC) — Repeat

SEASON FINALE: COVERT AFFAIRS (10p ET, USA) — The 5th season ends tonight. The show has not yet been renewed for a 6th season.

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ENTERTAINMENT

SONY CANCELS CHRISTMAS RELEASE FOR ‘THE INTERVIEW’ _ Sony Pictures Entertainment has postponed indefinitely the theatrical release of The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as American broadcast journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea. The film studio’s computer system was hacked by an anonymous group known only as the Guardians of Peace, which cited its outrage over the film as its motivation. Tens of thousands of private documents — including copies of unreleased films, screenplays, financial information and personal emails — were released online.

… The organization went on to threaten violence at theaters that screened movie, prompting theater chains to announce they are refusing to show it.

SONY HAS ‘NO FURTHER RELEASE PLANS’ FOR ‘THE INTERVIEW’ _ Sony confirmed on Wednesday that the company “has no further release plans” for The Interview — that includes DVD, video on demand, and “any other platforms.”

SONY COULD LOSE $100 MILLION BY PULLING ‘THE INTERVIEW’ _ Sony announced Wednesday that it’s canceling the December 25 premiere of “The Interview” following threats from a hacker group that calls itself Guardians Of Peace. It’s unclear whether or not Sony will push the premiere, release the movie online, or scrap it altogether. If Sony chooses to nuke the movie, it could lose about $100 million. That includes production costs, marketing costs, and penalties Sony would have to pay for canceling the movie.

HOLLYWOOD REACTS TO SONY CANCELING THE RELEASE OF THE INTERVIEW _ Sony canceled the Christmas day debut of The Interview, which upset some in Hollywood. Never mind that three of the nation’s top theater chains said they wouldn’t be showing the movie — the celebs still decided to blame Sony, which was pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place. Celebs tweeted…

• Rob Lowe: Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this.

• Judd Apatow: I think it is disgraceful that these theaters are not showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?

• Jimmy Kimmel: @JuddApatow I agree wholeheartedly. An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.

• Michael Moore: Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I’d also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.

• Bill Maher: Is that all it takes – an anonymous threat and the numbers 911 – to throw free expression under the bus?

• Zach Braff: Canceling “The Interview” seems like a pretty horrible precedent to set.

STEVE CARELL’S NORTH KOREA MOVIE CANCELED AFTER SONY HACK _ Just hours after Sony canceled the release of The Interview, New Regency canceled Pyongyang, a thriller starring Steve Carell. The movie, which was scheduled to start shooting in March, was about a Westerner accused of espionage in North Korea.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: PEOPLE SHOULD STILL “GO TO THE MOVIES _ President Obama says Americans should still “go to the movies,” despite threats of attacks on theaters throughout the country. The Commander-in-Chief made the comments in an ABC interview before Sony announced it would no longer release The Interview in cinemas.

TEXAS THEATER TO SHOW ‘TEAM AMERICA’ IN PLACE OF ‘THE INTERVIEW’ _ After Sony canceled the release of the North Korea assassination comedy The Interview, a Texas theater said it would swap the film with Paramount’s 2004 film Team America: World Police for one free screening. Alamo Drafthouse programmer James Wallace said, “We’re just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation.” American flags and other patriotic items will be given out by theater employees. The plot of Team America, co-written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, revolves around Kim Jong Il, the father of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

MAN WHO ACCUSED BRYAN SINGER OF SEXUALLY ABUSING HIM INDICTED _ The man who accused Hollywood director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him as a teenager has been indicted on wire fraud charges. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michael Frances Egan III allegedly “engaged in a fraudulent investment scheme by inducing his victims to enter into various fictitious business and investment contacts.” In addition, Egan allegedly promised that he would invest in projects like Halloween-themed attractions and TV shows. In reality, he did not invest victims’ money as promised. If convicted, Egan faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine for the securities fraud count and a 20-year prison term and $250,000 fine for the wire fraud count.

MYTHBUSTERS WILL TACKLE THE SIMPSONS IN ITS SEASON PREMIERE _ They’ve taken on the science of Breaking Bad and the zombies of The Walking Dead, and now they’re taking on Bart Simpson. Mythbusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman will tackle the myths of The Simpsons in Mythbusters’ Season 13 premiere next month. The guys spent a lot of time scouring The Simpsons’ 25-year history to find situations they could actually try to recreate. Look for an attempt to reenact the scene from the 1990 episode “The Crepes of Wrath,” in which Bart tosses a cherry bomb into a toilet, causing all of the school’s toilets to gush like geysers. They’ll also be attempting to reenact a scene from The Simpsons’ fifth season in which Homer jumps between a wrecking ball and his house in order to stop the house from being destroyed. Savage said they had to find two houses to potentially destroy, as well as create a life-size Homer Simpson figure, in order to carry out the experiment.

GONE WITH THE WIND IS AMERICA’S ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIE _ 75 years after it’s theatrical release, the Civil War epic Gone with the Wind has been voted America’s favorite movie. The results of a Harris Poll show the Star Wars series is No. 2, followed by Titanic, The Godfather and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

… Rounding out the top ten are The Sound of Music, Dirty Dancing, The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life and E.T.

CHARLIE SHEEN TO REPRISE ‘FERRIS BUELLER’ ROLE ON ‘THE GOLDBERGS’ _ Charlie Sheen will reprise his Ferris Bueller role on The Goldbergs. The 49-year-old actor will pay homage to “Boy in the Police Station” on an upcoming episode of the ABC sitcom. Sheen first portrayed the character in John Hughes’ 1986 film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Boy in the Police Station” speaks to Jeanie Bueller (Jennifer Grey) after she is arrested for filing a false police report.

MAN IS SELLING ELVIS’ PUBIC HAIR FOR $5,000 _ (CAUTION) An unnamed Ohio man claims he has a real pubic hair from Elvis that he’s been holding on to since 1965. And he’s putting it on the market for $5,000. According to his Craigslist post, the man’s ex-wife personally plucked it from Elvis’ crotch back in ’65. It comes with letter of authenticity signed by Colonel Parker, the man who served as Elvis’ manager.

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AUDIO

Audio Archives

KIDS SAY HAPPY HOLIDAYS, MERRY CHRISTMAS

A short montage of kids saying “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” etc. » download

WHAT KIDS HANG ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE

A bunch of kids saying what they put on their Christmas trees. » download

With a funny finish, here’s the same bunch of kids. » download

FUN DOG NAMES

From Angus to Ziggy and everything in between, Rover.com dug into its database to discover the most popular dog names of 2014. Top Male Dog Names were Max, Buddy, Charlie, Jack, Cooper, Rocky, Toby, Tucker, Jake and Bear. Top Female Dog Names are Bella, Lucy, Daisy, Molly, Lola, Sophie, Sadie, Maggie, Chloe and Bailey.

… The most popular category for dogs names (behind people names) was food. Popular dogs names in the food category: Coconut, Kale, Guinness, Vino, Mochi and Whiskey. (More info here.) » download

KIDS: WHAT DO YOU PUT OUT FOR SANTA ON CHRISTMAS EVE?

We asked kids what they put out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Good for launching a phoner, a Facebook topic, or for some mushy Christmas Day promos in between the tunes. » download

COMFORT FOODS

It’s comfort food season. What’s yours? Here are four calls to help with the phones. » download

GRANDMA GOT MOLESTED AT THE AIRPORT

Thanks to Andy R. for reminding us this was on YouTube: Grandma Got Molested at the Airport

CHRISTMAS CLIPS

Our annual clips package continues to grow. Loads of offbeat, funny Christmas drops — updated for 2014. » download

CHARITY CLIPS

Got a charity event or fundraiser coming up? Here are some random clips. » download

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BITS & BREAKS

THROWBACK THURSDAY

“We were talking about this stuff one year ago…”

• OBAMA MET WITH OVER A DOZEN TECH EXECS _ In an effort to improve the Healthcare.gov website President Barack Obama met with the leaders or co-leaders of Apple, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Etsy, Netflix, Dropbox, Zynga, Comcast, LinkedIN, AT&T, and others.

• NEIGHBOR CATCHES TWIN BABIES TOSSED TO SAFETY FROM BURNING APARTMENT _ When a fire broke out in their Bronx, New York, apartment just before 7 in the morning, two twin boys — 11-months old — were dropped to a neighbor by their father on the third floor. The twins didn’t appear injured.

• FLORIDA WAITRESS FOUND $1,000, GAVE IT BACK TO WRONG MAN _ A Florida (Punta Gorda) waitress found $1,000 on a seat at a table she just cleared. After running after the person she believed it belonged to, she handed over the money without knowing she gave it to the wrong person. The man took the money and left.

• BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH SPIKED EGGNOG _ A new study claimed by drinking spiked eggnog you could boost your immune system. A team of researchers said moderate drinkers demonstrated an enhanced immune response — better even than the groups that drank too much and didn’t drink at all.

• MORGAN FREEMAN MISTAKEN FOR NELSON MANDELA _ In India, the owner of a billboard dedicated to Nelson Mandela was embarrassed after the discovery that a photo of actor Morgan Freeman was used instead of one of the anti-apartheid hero.

ANALYZING LETTERS TO SANTA

From the humorous to the heart-wrenching, children’s wish lists to Santa reveal that children aren’t as toy-centric as parents think — and that they’re not as polite as perhaps they should be. Carole Slotterback, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton, analyzed nearly 1,200 letters sent between 1998 and 2003 to the central post office in Scranton. Slotterback, who describes her findings in the book “The Psychology of Santa,” said the letters “touched me in so many different ways.”

Some discoveries:

• Children who sent letters instead of lists were generally more polite and chatty, for instance asking about Mrs. Claus.

• The letters show kids are sensitive to current events. In 2001, just months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, children’s letters were very patriotic. Kids drew pictures of Santa’s sleigh with American flags hanging off the back, and of St. Nick putting flags in stockings; they also asked for fewer toys that year.

• Overall, between 3 percent and 6 percent of letters had what Slotterback called “family requests,” such as for a sick grandmother to get better or for Mom and Dad to stop fighting.

• She noted a surprising lack of social niceties in the correspondence, unless the child was asking for a pet. A boy who asked for a golden retriever used “please” 16 times, she said. The next-highest use came from a girl who wanted a horse.

Some of the more interesting letters:

• One kid asked to be an elf.

• Another made a list that included Pokemon cards, a camera and a microscope. But about every third item, the child wrote: “NO clothes.”

• One letter was written in careful cursive on bright pink paper, in which Santa was asked for perhaps the greatest gift of all: a mom. “Not just for me but my daddy, brother and granny … my daddy works so hard and then he comes home to cook and clean and it should be easier.”

’80s SLANG

The website CharleyChartwell.com sells this ’80s slang artwork. We thought it would be fun to quiz your co-hosts on some of the slang words. Or just use it as a walk down memory lane. Larger image here. Do not re-post. This is copyrighted material.

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FUN & GAMES

TRIVIA: One in ten people who own one of these say they’d like to be buried with it when they die. (Smartphone)

TRIVIA: The last of these was discovered in 1903. (Uncharted island. It was discovered at the far edge of Indonesia.)

REAL BOWL OR NOT?

The first college bowl is Saturday, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. I’ll name some bowls you tell me if they’re real or if I made them up.

• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (REAL: Western Michigan vs. Air Force)

• Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie Bowl (NOT)

• Lee’s Famous Recipe Fried Chicken Bowl (NOT)

• Sarah Lee Cakes & Desserts Bowl (NOT)

• Zillow Real Estate Bowl (NOT)

• Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (REAL: Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech)

• Duck Commander Independence Bowl (REAL: Miami vs. South Carolina)

• H&R Block Tax Preparation Bowl (NOT)

• TaxSlayer Bowl (REAL: Iowa vs. Tennessee)

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JOKE OF THE DAY

A husband and wife came for counseling after 25 years of marriage. When asked what the problem was, the wife went into an angry tirade listing each and every problem they had ever had. She went on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and un-loveable — a long list of unmet needs she had endured over the course of their quarter century of marriage. Finally, after allowing this to go on for some time, the therapist stood up, walked around his desk and, asking the wife to stand, embraced her and kissed her passionately on the mouth. The woman shut up and, in a daze, quietly sat down. The therapist turned to the husband and said, “This is what your wife needs at least seven times a week. Do you think you can do this?” The husband thought for a moment and replied, “Well, I can drop her off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on the other days I play golf.”

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VIDEO OF THE DAY

Doglapse: 2 months to 3 years in 23 seconds.

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IMAGE OF THE DAY

 


Source: unknown

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LAST MINUTE ITEMS

• Two idea-packed books for sales, promotions and stunts in 2015. Here’s one, here’s the other.

• Conversations with My 4-Year-Old: Shopping

2014’s Best Video Clips

• Artist creates works of art simply by adding signage to things that are already there.

• Newest Mad Max: Fury Road trailer cranks up the action.

• Parking lot incompetence.

• Esther Anderson just wanted to sleep, but her baby had other plans.

• Trailer: Terminator: Genisys.

• Star Wars: Episode VII teaser trailer (Michael Bay Edition).

Poo Doh.

• Download Our Boring Radio Station App.

• In one minute, this model goes through 100 years’ worth of hair and makeup trends.

• Random request generator.

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COUNTRY DATEBOOK: DECEMBER 18, 2014

• 1978: JOHNNY PAYCHECK’s album Take This Job And Shove It was certified gold.

• 1984: WILLIE NELSON’s album City Of New Orleans was certified gold.

• 1998: MARTINA MCBRIDE performed as part of the annual Christmas In Washington.

• 1998: GARTH BROOKS’ Double Live collection was spending its fourth week at the top of both the Top 200 and Country Albums charts and had sold over 2.5 million copies.

• 1998: TERRI CLARK held the top spot on the Billboard Country Singles chart with You’re Easy On The Eyes.

• 2006: TIM MCGRAW and FAITH HILL’s Soul2Soul 2 tour ranked at #5 on Pollstar’s year-end list of top grossing tours, bringing in $88.8 million. KENNY CHESNEY’s tour came in 8th with $61 million grossed. They were the only country tours in the Top 10.

• 2006: SUGARLAND’s album Enjoy The Ride was certified platinum.

• 2007: TAYLOR SWIFT was named iTunes’ Country Artist of the Year, and her song Teardrops On My Guitar was named iTunes’ country single of 2007.

• 2008: TAYLOR SWIFT was named Top Selling Country Artist of the year and came in fourth overall in that category with more than 5 million albums sold in 2008 alone.

• 2009: KEITH URBAN surprised  teen customer at Tym Guitars in Brisbane, Australia, paying for a $450 fuzz pedal as a Christmas present.

• 2013: MIRANDA LAMBERT announced her new line of footwear, Miranda.

COWBOY TROY is 44

RANDY HOUSER is 38

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COUNTRY AUDIO

CARRIE UNDERWOOD on her chart-topping new album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1. » download

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COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS

CARRIE UNDERWOOD makes it five for five this week as her newly released Greatest Hits: Decade #1 becomes her fifth consecutive album to debut at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums sales chart. The 25-song collection sold 94,000 copies, delivering the best-selling debut for a hits collection by an artist in any genre of music in more than six years. Check our related audio in the Country Audio section.

JAKE OWEN, THOMAS RHETT and MADDIE & TAE have been added to the lineup of performers for CMT’s Ultimate Kickoff concert special, airing January 9 from AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. TOBY KEITH, LADY ANTEBELLUM, BIG & RICH and BRETT ELDREDGE were previously announced to headline the event.

ERIC CHURCH’s album The Outsiders has sold a million copies. It’s one of the top-selling albums of 2014.

MIRANDA LAMBERT is at home in Tishamingo, Oklahoma this week wrapping up her Christmas shopping.

VINCE GILL and AMY GRANT wrap up their sold out Christmas tour tonight (Thursday) at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

DOLLY PARTON’s Dollywood Theme Park is hosting Smokey Mountain Christmas, a production that runs into early 2015 with re-enactments of classic movies like A Christmas Carrol. Dolly has a role, through hologram, as the ghost of Christmas Past. The festivities run through January 3.

KIP MOORE has achieved platinum status for his tune Hey Pretty Girl and double platinum status for his tune Somethin’ About A Truck.

When the time comes for him to have a family of his own KIP MOORE hopes to pass on some Christmas traditions from his late father. Kip says his dad would take his brothers and him fishing on Christmas Eve then stop by the video store on the way home and stay up all night watching movies and laughing.

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DATEBOOK: DECEMBER 19, 2014

This is day 353 of 2014. There are 12 days remaining.

BIRTHDAYS

• Cicely Tyson is 90

• Tim Reid (Venus Flytrap on WKRP in Cincinnati) is 70

• Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady on The Brady Bunch) is 54

• Jennifer Beals (Flashdance) is 51

• Magician Criss Angel is 47

• Kristy Swanson is 45

• Tyson Beckford is 44

• Alyssa Milano (Melrose Place, Charmed) is 42

• Jake Gyllenhaal is 34

IT HAPPENED TODAY

• 1606: The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery departed England carrying settlers who, at Jamestown, Virginia, would found the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States.

• 1843: A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, was first published in England.

• 1975: Advertising executive and storyteller C.W. McCall earned a gold record for his novelty hit “Convoy,” a single about truck drivers and their run-ins with the law. It reached #1 on both the country and pop charts.

• 1980: Santa Claus robbed a bank in Berkeley, California, by threatening to blow it up. A short time later, police arrested a hefty 50-year-old man with a sackful of money, still wearing his Santa outfit.

• 1989: The U.S. issued a patent (#4,887,552) to James Hayden of Cincinnati for his Electrically Lighted Dog Leash and Collar. Powered by a 9-volt battery, the leash device contributes to dog-walking safety after dark.

• 1995: Two bandits tried to rob Z’s Sports Tap bar in Chicago where a police retirement party was underway. The 100 off-duty police officers arrested the suspects at the scene without a fight.

• 1997: Titanic, the highest-grossing movie in history, opened in North American theaters.

• 1998: The United States House of Representatives forwarded articles I and III of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate.

• 2001: The fire at the World Trade Center, as a result of the September 11, 2001 attacks, was finally extinguished after three months.

• 2001: Research by the Reno Gazette-Journal in Nevada determined the most effective way to get rid of a fruitcake is to drive over it with an SUV or kick it like a football. Dropping a fruitcake from the roof of a two-story building or shooting it with a submachine gun was not effective at all.

• 2004: In the U.K. a bakery announce it would fight plans for a phone pole because workers claimed radio waves would ruin its “cosmic bread”. A spokesperson for the bakery (Artisan Bread) said emissions from the antenna would disrupt “subtle forces” which help to make the loaves. The bakery plots planetary movements and uses a special calendar to work out the best time to make the bread.

• 2006: A woman mistakenly put her 1-month-old grandson through an X-ray machine at Los Angeles International Airport. A startled security worker noticed the shape of a child on the carry-on baggage screening monitor and immediately pulled him out. The infant was taken to a local hospital, where doctors determined he did not receive a dangerous dose of radiation.

• 2012: Park Geun-hye won the South Korean presidential election to become the nation’s first female president.

SPECIAL EVENTS

• Oatmeal Muffin Day

• Hard Candy Day

UPCOMING

• Winter begins: December 21 (Sunday, 6:03pm ET)

• Christmas Day: December 25 (Thursday)

• New Year’s Day: January 1 (Thursday)

• January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Tuesday)

• January 31: Chinese New Year (Saturday)

• Groundhog Day: February 2 (Monday)

• Valentine’s Day: February 14 (Saturday)

• President’s Day: February 17 (Tuesday)

More holidays

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DATEBOOK WEEKEND

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20

• John Hillerman (Magnum P.I.) is 82. Former Kiss drummer Peter Criss is 69. Jonah Hill is 31.

• Today is Sangria Day; Games Day; Go Caroling Day.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21

• Country singer Freddie Hart is 88. Phil Donahue is 79. Jane Fonda is 77. Samuel L. Jackson is 66. Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) is 59. Country singer Lee Roy Parnell is 58. Ray Romano is 57. Andy Dick is 49. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 48. Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) is 31.

• Today is Hamburger Day; Look on the Bright Side Day; Flashlight Day; Humbug Day; Don’t Make Your Bed Day; Crossword Puzzle Day; first day of winter (6:03pm ET).

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