INTERPREP ★ DECEMBER 27, 2017

Light issues are being published this week. No issue on New Year’s Day. The full prep will return January 2, 2018.
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DATEBOOK: DECEMBER 27, 2017

This is day 361 of 2017. There are 4 days remaining.

BIRTHDAYS

• Cokie Roberts is 74

• Gerard Depardieu is 69

• Eva LaRue (CSI: Miami) is 51

• TV journalist Savannah Guthrie is 46

IT HAPPENED TODAY

• 1932: The Radio City Music Hall in New York City opened.

• 1941: Puppets Howdy and Double Doody were born in Doodyville, Texas. They made their TV debut in 1947 on their 6th birthday.

• 1968: Apollo 8 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, ending humanity’s first manned mission to the Moon.

• 1971: Sonny & Cher were given a regular variety show on CBS-TV after their summer replacement show was a big success. “The Sonny & Cher Show” lasted four seasons.

• 1989: The album “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Elmo and Patsy was certified gold.

• 2000: A Milwaukee man who tuned into a police scanner was surprised to hear traffic officers chasing his wife. The woman was arrested. Her husband showed up at the police station to claim the car keys, but refused to bail out his wife.

• 2002: Clonaid, a company founded by a group that believed in space aliens, announced it had produced the world’s first cloned baby. Scientists dismissed the claim when the group supplied no corroborating evidence.

• 2013: An error on the Delta Air Lines website allowed thousands of customers to buy tickets for super-low fares, some 90% below regular ticket prices. Delta took responsibility for the error and honored ticket purchases.

• 2014: Sony’s gaming service went back online after a hacking attack disrupted its PlayStation Network.

SPECIAL EVENTS

• Free Balloon Day

• Visit The Zoo Day

• Fruitcake Day

UPCOMING

• December 31: New Year’s Eve
• January 1: New Year’s Day
• January 1: Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl (college semis)
• January 1: Supermoon: the first of 2018
• January 6: NFL Playoffs begin
• January 8: College football championship
• January 13: NFL Divisional Playoffs begin
• January 23: Oscar nominations announced
• January 30: State of the Union
• January 31: Total lunar eclipse/blood moon
• February 2: Groundhog Day
• February 4: Super Bowl 52
• February 8: New York Fashion Week begins
• February 9: Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony
• February 13: Mardi Gras
• February 14: Valentine’s Day
• February 16: Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog
• February 19: President’s Day


NEWS ATTACK!

The numbers are in, and Americans racked up record retail sales during the holiday shopping season. [Experts say that this points to an increase in consumer confidence and is a strong indication that we never seem to learn our lesson.]

Someone in San Antonio stole a homeowner’s 16-foot inflatable reindeer decoration. [It’s always interesting how different people are. One man’s holiday tradition involved decorations, and another man’s holiday tradition involved stealing them.]

A report says that pinball is making a comeback. [Because modern civilization is obviously in danger of running out of ways to waste time.]

Tensions between the UK and Russia are running high. [The British accuse the Russians of hacking the royal line of ascension in order to put their candidate on the throne.]

The oldest tree at the White House is scheduled to be taken down this week. [First tax cuts, now axe cuts.]

Vandals in Australia smashed a 115 million-year-old dinosaur footprint. [It’s a shame that dinosaurs went extinct rather than vandals.]

A man in Florida was arrested after he beat up an ATM because it was dispensing too much money. [I can honestly say that that’s a problem I’ve never had with any ATM in my entire life.]

A woman in Pennsylvania received an electric bill for $284 billion. [Next year, she might want to go a little easy on the Christmas lights.]

The World Health Organization plans to declare excessive video game playing as a disorder. [It’s treatable through medication, talk therapy and a swift kick in the butt.]


NEWS & NUGGETS

GOOD NEWS FOR FEDEX, UPS: PEOPLE OPENED $90B IN UNWANTED GIFTS _ Don’t like your holiday present? That’s a gift for FedEx and UPS. Consumers will return about $90 billion worth of goods this holiday season. That sum amounts to close to a quarter of the total value of goods returned each year.

… January marks the peak of returns, accounting for 51 percent of returns, but many consumers waste little time in returning their unwanted items right after Christmas. December 26 through December 31 accounts for 40 percent of returns.

… UPS said 5.8 million packages were shipped back to retailers in the first full week of January this year.

AMERICAN AIRLINES ACCUSED 2 PASSENGERS OF STEALING BLANKETS _ It’s not all glamour for professional basketball players. At least, when you’re playing in the G-League — the NBA’s minor league. Marquis Teague and Trahson Burrell play for the G-League’s Memphis Hustle. On Christmas Eve, they were flying on American Airlines flight 3756 from Dallas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They weren’t flying First Class. However, two passengers who were gave them their blankets as a gesture of kindness. When the two players took their seats in coach a flight attendant accused them of stealing the blankets. Words were exchanged and, as happens on planes, those words led to the two players being asked off the flight. The Hustle’s assistant coach Darnell Lazare believes this was a clear case of racial profiling.

… American responded: “We apologize for what occurred on this flight. We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down. Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened, and will be reaching out to them.”

MOM BEGS FACEBOOK FRIENDS TO DONATE LIVER TO HER DAUGHTER _ When a post from an old friend comes up on Facebook, do you read it? Donya McCoy of Pennsylvania sure is glad her old friends read hers. When Donya’s young daughter was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disease, she didn’t have many options. Her baby’s prognosis was bad — but doctors had a revolutionary idea. The new piece of Kennedy’s liver couldn’t come from someone she was related to. Donya was willing to do whatever she could to get her daughter what she needed. She decided Facebook was her best bet, so she posted a status. It was Donya’s old high school friend, Mike Thompson, who saw the post. He is a firefighter, and was willing to be the donor. And it worked.

‘GAMING DISORDER’ MAY GET CLASSIFIED AS A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION _ There’s a certain point at which a hobby can become too much. The World Health Organization is considering adding “gaming disorder” to the list of mental health conditions in its next update of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The 11th version of the ICD is not yet set, but the addition would be a recognition that a pastime can become problematic if it leads to a form of addictive behavior.

… Specifically, the draft’s language states that gaming behavior could be a disorder if it meets three characteristics: if a person loses control over their gaming habits, if they start to prioritize gaming over many other interests or activities, and if they continue playing despite clear negative consequences. This would add gaming to a list of other behaviors that can become problematic if people lose control over them, including gambling and disorders related to the use of substances like alcohol, marijuana, caffeine, or nicotine.

ERIE GOT BURIED IN 53 INCHES OF SNOW IN 30 HOURS _ Be careful what you wish for: Residents of Erie, Pennsylvania who were dreaming of a white Christmas got more than they bargained for when a jaw-dropping 53 inches of snow fell on the city and its surrounding areas over a 30-hour period. The white stuff started to fall on Christmas Day, and by the end of Monday there was a total of 34 inches on the ground. It was a record-setting total for the city, clobbering its previous snowiest-day-ever, when 20 inches fell on November 11, 1956. But Mother Nature wasn’t done with them yet.

… The heavy snowfall continued into Tuesday morning, dropping another 19 inches, for a grand total of 53 inches of snow — just under 4½ feet — by Tuesday morning. But it’s still not over; the snow is expected to continue through today (Wednesday).

Check out some photos.

MISSING SON WAS PLANNING CHRISTMAS SURPRISE _ A single mother who spent her savings to move her family into a new apartment was overcome with worry when her son kept disappearing — but unbeknownst to her, her loving children were planning a Christmas surprise. Sophia Reed recently moved to Oklahoma City after her husband suddenly left her. The move used up most of her savings thanks to the security deposit and rent, and Reed planned to share a nice Christmas dinner with her four children in lieu of buying presents she couldn’t afford. But as the family settled into their new home and surroundings, Reed became increasingly concerned as her 13-year-old son, Darius, kept disappearing for hours on end. So the worried mother turned to the police while Darius was on one of his mysterious excursions in mid-December, and that’s when it was revealed what her son and his siblings were up to. Darius told a police officer that he was collecting hundreds of cans to raise money and bring some Christmas cheer to his mother. At that point, the young boy had collected $13. After learning what he was up to, the officer decided to keep Darius’ secret, and went back to his station to spread the word with the intention of helping the 13-year-old on his mission. The department was able to raise about $800 to buy gifts for Reed and her children, just in time for Christmas.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WILL NO LONGER ARCHIVE EVERY TWEET _ Since 2010, Library of Congress has been archiving every single public tweet: Yours, ours, the president’s. But on Tuesday, the institution announced it will no longer archive every one of our status updates. As of January 1, the library will only acquire tweets “on a very selective basis.” The library doesn’t say how many tweets has in its collection now, but in 2013 it said it was collecting a half a billion tweets a day.

BLAME ROBOTS FOR AMAZON’S ODD BOX SIZES _ Ever order something on Amazon.com — something small, perhaps — and it shows up in a box 20 times the necessary size? Blame robots. Amazon uses some super complicated software to determine which box to use, but it’s not based solely on the size of the product. Instead, the software also takes into account the actual truck that will be carrying your package to a distribution center, as well as the other boxes that will be in the truck. The software is basically playing Tetris to find the most efficient way to stack boxes inside the truck. Sometimes a truck won’t have as many packages to carry, and Amazon will automatically put your product into a larger box. That way there’s less empty room in the back of the truck. Which is good. Otherwise, the packages would slide around and could get damaged.

MEN RESIST GREEN BEHAVIOR AS UN-MANLY _ Women have long surpassed men in the arena of environmental action; across age groups and countries, females tend to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Compared to men, women litter less, recycle more, and leave a smaller carbon footprint. It’s not that men don’t care about the environment. But they also tend to want to feel macho, and they worry that eco-friendly behaviors might brand them as feminine. Yes, it really is almost 2018.

… The research consisted of seven experiments involving more than 2,000 American and Chinese participants. The study showed that there is a psychological link between eco-friendliness and perceptions of femininity. Due to this “green-feminine stereotype,” both men and women judged eco-friendly products, behaviors, and consumers as more feminine than their non-green counterparts.


WACKY-BUT-TRUE

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: TOPLESS PROTESTER TRIES TO GRAB BABY JESUS _ A topless protester was detained by Vatican police on Monday for attempting to steal the doll of baby Jesus from the Vatican’s nativity scene. The incident occurred as thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear the Pope’s Christmas Day message. The woman, who was wearing pants and shoes, was part of the international feminist organization Femen. The group has become well-known for sending topless activists to protest world leaders and challenge the global patriarchy.

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: MAKE TAKES A SEAT, GOES FOR A FALL _ A man said he went into the restroom at a McDonald’s in Georgia and sat down to do his business. It was as he was finishing up that he and the seat fell to the floor. The man said after the fall, his backside and hip hurt. Medics took him to a hospital. A McDonald’s employee said an unknown person had removed the screw bolts that fastened the seat to the toilet bowl.

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: DRUNK MOOSE GETS XMAS LIGHTS TANGLED IN ANTLERS _ A moose in Anchorage, Alaska, binged on fermented crab apples from a tree in front of a local bar. The moose was so drunk that it seemed unaware that its antlers were wrapped in Christmas lights it snagged from a city tree.

WACKY-BUT-TRUE: MAN FOLLOWS DIRECTIONS IN ANONYMOUS TEXT MESSAGE _ An unidentified man in New Zealand got a series of text messages on his phone saying that two young women wanted to, um, have a little fun. The man proceeded to the indicated address and, as suggested, removed his clothing, tossed it through the front window and let himself in. The house’s occupants had not sent the messages; they called police. Investigators traced the prank to a 17-year-old girl.


ENTERTAINMENT & TV

60 SECONDS LEFT: A MOVIE COUNTDOWN TO THE NEW YEAR _ Video editor Dr. Machakil celebrates the upcoming arrival of 2018 with this supercut of characters from new and classic films counting down from sixty to one. • VIDEO

2017 U.S. BOX OFFICE SET TO FALL TO THREE-YEAR LOW _ The final number for the 2017 North American box office haul will decline by about 2.5% from last year’s record-setting $11.38 billion — even with Star Wars: The Last Jedi adding more than $400 million. As of Christmas Day, the domestic total for the year was $10.68 billion, or 2.7% behind the same time frame a year ago. The final six days of 2017 are likely to generate somewhere between last year’s six-day total of $408 million and 2015’s six-day haul of $431 million. So the final 2017 number will be between $11.09 billion and $11.11 billion — about $270 million behind last year’s final total.

NFL CANCELS SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL THIS WEEK _ The NFL has canceled the final Sunday night football game of the season. Next Sunday’s game had two disadvantages: The games all had a likelihood of being dull by the time Sunday night rolled around. And this coming Sunday is New Year’s Eve, a day when historically few Americans watch television. The last time the NFL held a Sunday night football game on New Year’s Eve was in 2006, when the Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers. It was quarterback Brett Favre’s last game with the Packers — and widely expected to be his last game ever. Still, only 13.4 million people watched that game, about a quarter fewer than the average Sunday Night Football game that season.

MTV UNPLUGGED CO-CREATOR DIES AT 65 _ Jim Burns, the co-creator of the acoustic performance series show MTV Unplugged, has died. He was 65. Burns was struck by a taxi cab while walking his dog on the Upper East Side in Manhattan.

…. Unplugged ran regularly from 1989 to 1999, spotlighting artists such as Nirvana, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton. Each episode, which ran for about an hour, let popular musicians play their hits with acoustic instruments.

LINDSAY LOHAN OWES U.S. OVER $100,000 IN TAXES _ Lindsay Lohan has been loving her new life overseas, but it seems she still has some unfinished business back in the States. According to a recently filed tax lien, the actress owes Uncle Sam $100,710.55 in taxes from the years 2010, 2014 and 2015. During that time she had a role in the Danny Trejo action flick Machete and a cameo on an episode of 2 Broke Girls. She also appeared in the reality series Lindsay on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. The actress has been living between London and Dubai.

MAD ABOUT YOU’ REVIVAL IN THE WORKS _ Almost two decades after its seven-season run wrapped, producers are considering a potential revival for NBC’s Mad About You. The Emmy-nominated comedy starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. No deals are in place and a network is not currently attached.

ON TELEVISION _ Here’s what’s on the tube tonight.

THE CAROL BURNETT 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (8p ET, CBS) — Repeat

THE GOLDBERGS (8p ET, ABC) — Repeat

THE WALL (8p ET, NBC) — New

COLLEGE FOOTBALL (8p ET, FOX) — Arizona faces Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl. More bowl games.

EA MADDEN NFL 18 CHALLENGE (8p ET, CW) — Eight world-class players vie for the title of Madden NFL Challenge champion and a share of a $150,000 prize.

THE LIBRARIANS (8p ET, TNT) — Two new episodes

SPEECHLESS (8:30p ET, ABC) — Repeat

DOLLY PARTON’S CHRISTMAS COAT OF MANY COLORS: CIRCLE OF LOVE (9p ET, NBC) — Jennifer Nettles, Ricky Schroder, Gerald McRaney, Alyvia Alyn Lind, and Dolly Parton star in this 2016 made for TV movie.

MODERN FAMILY (9p ET, ABC) — Repeat

PENN AND TELLER: FOOL US (9p ET, CW) — Repeat

AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE (9:30p ET, ABC) — Repeat

MATCH GAME (10p ET, ABC) — Repeat

SEAL TEAM (10p ET, CBS) — Repeat


BITS & BREAKS

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE

From JamesShuggins.com

• Falling in love.

• A hot shower.

• No lines at Walmart, Target or any other big store.

• Hearing your favorite song on the radio.

• Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.

• Hot towels out of the dryer.

• Chocolate milkshake.

• A good conversation.

• Finding a $20 bill in your coat from last winter.

• Having someone tell you that you’re beautiful.

• Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.

• Hot chocolate.

• Getting butterflies in your stomach every time you see that one person.

• Holding hands with someone you care about.

• Riding the best roller coasters over and over.

• Watching the expression someone’s face as they open a much-desired present from you.


FUN & GAMES

TRIVIA: Per person, residents of Maryland use more of this than residents of any other state. (Toilet paper)

IT’S BOWL SEASON

It’s time for college football bowls. Some of these are real, some are made up.

• Grape Nuts Bowl (made up)

• Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl

• Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

• Band-aid Bowl (made up)

• Fruit of the Loom Comfy Colored Undies Bowl (made up)

• Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

• Dollar General Bowl

• Camping World Bowl


DATEBOOK: DECEMBER 28, 2017

This is day 362 of 2017. There are 3 days remaining.

BIRTHDAYS

• Stan Lee is 95

• Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, Harry Potter films) is 83

• TV personality (CBS This Morning) Gayle King is 63

• Denzel Washington is 63

• Country singer Joe Diffie is 59

• Country singer-guitarist Marty Roe of Diamond Rio is 57

• Seth Meyers (Late Night With Seth Meyers) is 44

• Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood) is 41

• John Legend is 39

• Sienna Miller is 36

• Miles Brown (Black-ish) is 13

IT HAPPENED TODAY

• 1612: Galileo Galilei became the first astronomer to observe the planet Neptune, although he mistakenly cataloged it as a fixed star.

• 1846: Iowa was admitted as the 29th U.S. state.

• 1869: William E. Semple of Mount Vernon, Ohio, patented chewing gum.

• 1902: The first indoor professional American football game was played in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

• 1945: The U.S. Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance.

• 1975: Trailing 14-10 with only 32 seconds left and no time outs, from 50 yards out Roger Staubach hit Drew Pearson in a crowd at the goal-line to give Dallas the NFC title over Minnesota. In a post-game interview, Staubach said, “You throw it and pray he catches it. I guess it’s sort of a ‘Hail Mary’ pass.”

• 2000: Retail giant Montgomery Ward announced it is going out of business after 128 years.

• 2003: A 38-year-old jewel thief who swallowed a $20,000 diamond ring in Clearwater, Florida, was forced by nature to give up the evidence. The woman was arrested after a surveillance tape showed her putting the 1.5 carat ring in her mouth at a jewelry store. An X-ray showed the ring inside the suspect.

• 2010: Remains of a human that lived 400,000 years ago were discovered in Israel, challenging the theory that humans originated in Africa.

• 2012: Vladimir Putin signed into law a ban on U.S. adoption of Russian children.

SPECIAL EVENTS

• Endangered Species Act Day

• Chocolate Day

• Pledge of Allegiance Day

• Card Playing Day

UPCOMING

• December 31: New Year’s Eve
• January 1: New Year’s Day
• January 1: Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl (college semis)
• January 1: Supermoon: the first of 2018
• January 6: NFL Playoffs begin
• January 8: College football championship
• January 13: NFL Divisional Playoffs begin
• January 23: Oscar nominations announced
• January 30: State of the Union
• January 31: Total lunar eclipse/blood moon
• February 2: Groundhog Day
• February 4: Super Bowl 52
• February 8: New York Fashion Week begins
• February 9: Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony
• February 13: Mardi Gras
• February 14: Valentine’s Day
• February 16: Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog
• February 19: President’s Day