Thursday, December 31, 2015

The 15 Biggest Winners Of 2015

Oh yeah, there were some really BIG winners this year and not just in the world of sports.
For every sad loser of 2015 there were sparkling winners -- winners who provoked, entertained and inspired us.
So now, in no particular order, here are the year's Biggest Winners:

1. Donald Trump. Love him or hate him (and no one seems to be in-between) he said what many were thinking but refused to say. He shook the both Washington and GOP establishments to their very core. He broadened the debate and introduced issues that others hadn't thought of or were afraid to tackle. Quite simply, he's a sensation.

2. Chris Stapleton. The hottest, fastest-rising star in country music, Stapleton has single-handedly revived classic country making it real, heartfelt and relevant once again. Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells -- they're all smiling down on him!

3. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. They stood firm and survived it all. No amount of rumor, scandal or investigation could harm this team (and this quarterback) that many fans love to hate. Deflategate was flicked away like a mere nuisance.

4. Greg Berlanti. This tireless TV producer revolutionized video entertainment with superhero megahits The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl. And, he's got more on the way. He's tapped into the pulse of a new TV viewing audience.

5. Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton. Miranda has reinvented Broadway with a street smart rap musical that's the hottest ticket (and best ensemble cast) since A Chorus Line. With a young, vibrant, diverse company, an inventive score and a compelling story (based on Ron Chernow's outstanding biography) Miranda has made American history sizzle on the Great White Way.

6. J. J. Abrams, Disney and that movie serial that won't go away. Abrams took the seventh installment of an old, tiresome chestnut and turned it into a billion dollar (and counting) bonanza for Disney. You won't catch us at a showing of this flick but we have to admit that The Force remains powerful.

7. Vladimir Putin. You can thank President Obama for this addition to the list. Need we say more?

8. Pope Francis. We can't say that we agree with him every time this most loquacious of Popes opens his mouth but it's awfully hard not to like this guy or not to recognize his success. He's played to a live audience of more than 3.5 million people this year. Whew!

9. Women's Soccer. The US now has the world's best women's soccer team. The women brought home their third World Cup victory and the first since 1999. GoGoGo!

10. Chris Christie. They count him out again and again but New Jersey's irrepressible governor keeps coming back. Relegated to the debate undercard, he nonetheless shined and fought his way back onto the Main Event. His Town Halls in New Hampshire are SRO and his numbers are on the upswing again. Don't ever underestimate this guy out.

11. Frank Sinatra. What a banner centenary year for The Voice -- the man who eventually became The Chairman of the Board. 'Ole blue eyes has been dead for nearly 18 years and yet he's hotter than ever. Doobie, doobie, doo . . . .

12. Uber. The one name, the one service that seemed to be on everyone's lips. People don't walk or jog or ride or taxi anymore. They simply Uber. And Uber is now worth more than $60 billion!

13. American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza. After 37 years we finally have another Triple Crown winner. What a thrill! And, for this we also have to thank the great jockey who rode the horse to victory.

14. Chris Kyle, Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper and American Sniper. The movie (and the story) that Hollywood and the mainstream media wanted to ignore became the biggest movie sensation of the year. In grand testament to Kyle's heroism, his tale was finally given its due. Bravo!

15. Pharrell Williams and John Legend. Ok, so we're cheating here. We've decided to throw these two inventive musical powerhouses together just because we've run out of numbers. They write, they produce, they sing, they perform. They're extraordinary (each in his own right) and it appears there's nothing musically that they can't do. Captivating!

Are They Really Two Of A Kind?

That's for you to decide . . . .

Do You Know The Words To This Song?

It actually has five verses but most people never get past the first few lines on New Year's Eve:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


Lifelong Partners: The Movies And New Year's Eve

Clips from classic movies featuring the song Auld Lang Syne. In order, the clips are from Ocean's 11, One Way Passage, The Gold Rush, Waterloo Bridge, An Affair to Remember, Wee Willy Winkie, Scandal, The Apartment, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Bachelor Mother and It's a Wonderful Life.

Pope: To Know Love, Know Christ As Infant, Child

Pope Francis dedicated the catechesis of this year's final general audience to the widespread devotion to the Baby Jesus, which is keenly felt during these days.

This tradition, he explained, can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi and “keeps alive in our hearts the mystery of God made man”. He also mentioned St. Therese of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took on the name of Therese of the Child Jesus and “knew how to live and bear witness to that 'spiritual infancy' that is assimilated by meditating, in the school of the Virgin Mary, on the humility of God Who made Himself small for us”.

“There was a time when in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have a special meaning for our faith. It is true that His death on the Cross and His resurrection are the greatest expression of His redeeming love, but let us not forget that all His earthly life is revelation and teaching. In the Christmas period we remember His infancy. To grow in faith we need to contemplate the Baby Jesus more often. … We know little of Jesus as a child, but we can learn much about Him if we look at the life of children”.

“We discover, first of all, that children want our attention”, continued the Holy Father. “Why do they wish to be at the centre of attention? Because they like to show off? No! Because they need to feel protected. We too need to place Jesus at the centre of our life and to know, although it may seem paradoxical, that we have the responsibility of protecting Him … and of making the Baby Jesus smile to show Him our love and our joy that He is in our midst. His smile is a sign of the love, that gives us the certainty of being loved”.

Francis also emphasised that children love to play, and commented that playing with a child means setting aside our logic as adults and entering into that of a child.

“If we want the child to have fun, we must understand what he likes, without being selfish and making them do things that we like instead. This is a teaching for us. Before Jesus we are called upon to abandon our claims to autonomy, to instead welcome the true form of freedom, which consists in knowing Who is before us and serving Him. He, a child, is the Son of God, Who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father, full of love and mercy. Let us therefore hold the Baby Jesus in our arms and put ourselves in His service: He is the source of love and serenity”.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Guess What This TV/Film Legend Says About Trump

Jerry Lewis at 89  -- still lucid, still involved, still loving his country, still speaking out.

The Year's 20 Most Popular Baby Names




Do You Remember Mr. New Year's Eve?

Dick Clark died of a massive heart attack in April, 2012.
The host of American Bandstand who later succeeded Guy Lombardo as "Mr. New Year's Eve" was 82. But he always looked decades younger. He was the timeless teenager.
Clark's legacy lives on through so many TV shows and innovations that he pioneered.
Dick Clark got his start in Philadelphia and was once as much a part of the fabric of the city as a Mummer's string band or a soft pretzel. It all began when he landed a gig as a DJ at WFIL in Philadelphia in 1952, spinning records for a show he called "Dick Clark's Caravan of Music." There he broke into the big time, hosting Bandstand, an afternoon dance show for teenagers. The show was such a hit locally that lines wrapped around the old WFIL-TV studio as teenagers waited to get in for the live, late-afternoon broadcasts.
When the show went national things really started to take off.
Within five years, the whole country was watching as ABC presented "American Bandstand" and Clark introduced the nation to some of the biggest rock 'n roll acts (and songs) ever.
The show was never quite the same after it moved to Hollywood in 1963 but Clark continued to succeed and rake in the dough as he became a hugely successful TV producer. His "Dick Clark Productions" became a veritable license to print money.
"Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" on ABC became a Dec. 31 tradition, with Clark hosting the festivities for more than three decades, introducing the entertainment acts and, of course, counting down to midnight as the ball dropped in New York's Times Square.
In 2004 Clark suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed and barely able to speak. Courageously, he continued to appear on the annual countdown.
He was a shrewd businessman, a consummate showman and an American success story.

What Are YOU Dropping On New Year's Eve?

The Times Square Ball Drop is a New Year's Eve tradition -- a dumb tradition, but still a tradition.
But did you know that many other cities have their own midnight "drops" on New Year's Eve?
No joke. Here is a list of some of the other drops:
Raleigh, N. C. - Acorn drop
Carlisle, PA.. - Car
Miami - Orange
Kennet Square, PA. - Mushroom Drop
Atlanta - Peach
Bethlehem PA. - Peeps (yes, those funny marshmallow chicks)
Marion, Ohio - Popcorn
Harrisburg, PA. - Strawberry
And my two personal favorites:
Mechanicsburg, PA.. - Wrench (Whoa - Watch out when that wrench drops!)
Dillsburg, PA.. - Pickle (Beats me why anyone would celebrate a "pickle drop" or droop.)
Groundhog Day. And strawberry, car, wrench, mushroom and pickle drops. The Mummers. Something about Pennsylvania seems to attract sometimes silly, faux-folk customs.

Can You Guess Year's Two Dumbest 'Holidays'?

About all the silly hoopla over the new year: we just don't get it. Never have gotten it, in fact.
New Years Day is a dumb "holiday." It signifies nothing. It's merely the first day of the year - just a unit of measurement, that's all. It's just a way to keep time.
New Year's Eve is equally as dumb if not dumber.
Just because the clock moved ahead an extra second we're supposed to get all worked up? I don't think so.
This is simply an excuse for clubs and restaurants to make a big deal of nothing and charge you big bucks for it.
The rudest, loudest, most obnoxious people come crawling out of the woodwork on New Year's Eve. These are the people who don't get around very much (and don't go out very much) during the rest of the year. Trust us, you don't want to be around these people.
This is a sadly artificial holiday - a holiday that reeks of beer, tobacco and lost dreams; a holiday plagued by sticky champagne stains, stale leftovers, weary Christmas decorations and nothing to look forward to but cleaning up and getting ready for the two dreariest months of the year.
Happy New Year, everybody!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

He's Got Seven Gal's Names Tattooed WHERE?

The is an oldie that still a hit with online audiences, especially at the 6:33 mark.
The X Factor: Brighton's Cheeky Chappie takes the first step on his road to stardom With the names of seven girls permanently etched on his behind, Frankie's main ambition is to be famous and get lots of girls. But, of course, he has to win over the judges before he can win over the ladies. So is he any good? Singing the original version of Valerie by The Zutons, it's clear he's a hit with the audience. You be the judge . . . .

How 'Lone Wolf' Triggered Massive Crisis

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement regarding the latest budget development.

“Today, Tom Wolf finally admitted his multi-billion dollar mistake,” Gleason said. “When Tom Wolf issued a complete veto of the Republicans’ on-time budget last June, he needlessly plunged our school districts and non-profits into a six-month crisis. Throughout this year, Tom Wolf has repeatedly made special interests his top priority. It is tragic that so many schools and non-profits were faced with unpaid bills, layoffs and even closures because Tom Wolf used them as political pawns in his reckless budget game.

“It is time for Tom Wolf to join with Republicans in enacting a fiscally responsible budget that puts our Commonwealth on the right track for the future.”

You Don't Wanna Miss This One . . .

Since 1968, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has been a New Year's 
This year, the party starts at 1‌2 p‌.m. E‌ST when the Houston 
Cougars challenge the Florida State Seminoles at the Georgia Dome.

Bombshell: TV Star Snagged For Child Porn!

Mark Salling arrives at the 32nd Annual Paleyfest : Glee held at The Dolby Theatre on Friday, March 13, 2015, in Los Angeles.

Actor Mark Salling, best known for his role as Noah "Puck"
Puckerman on "Glee," has been arrested and booked for
alleged possession of child pornography, news outlets report and
Los Angeles police reportedly confirm.
It's being reported that The LAPD's Internet Crimes Against
Children Task Force has served a search warrant at
the 33-year-old's home.
Word is that Salling is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Remembering Great Stars Lost This Year - Video

From Turner Classic Movies:

Our way of honoring those great actors, actresses & filmmakers who've made our lives richer with their talent & imagination. We'll always remember you.

Once again, this year has seen the loss of beloved actors whom TCM was unable to honor with a full programming tribute. So we are taking this opportunity to show a key film from the career of each of the following splendid performers.

Dashing Louis Jourdan, born in 1921, died on Valentine's Day after more than 50 years as a film actor, though he is probably best remembered for the romantic leading-man image epitomized in Gigi (1958). Sultry Lizabeth Scott, born in 1922, was a leading light of film noir and gave her definitive performance as a femme fatale in Too Late for Tears (1949). Versatile Theodore Bikel, born in 1924, was an accomplished musician as well as a skilled actor who won an Oscar® nomination for his role in The Defiant Ones (1958), playing a sympathetic but determined Southern sheriff. Winsome Coleen Gray, born in 1922, often shone as the "good girl" in films noir including Kansas City Confidential (1952), in which she is the love interest of beleaguered ex-con John Payne. Voluptuous Anita Ekberg, born in 1931, enjoyed her first star part in Back from Eternity (1956), playing a sexy showgirl stranded in a South American jungle inhabited by headhunters! Sophisticated Betsy Drake, born in 1923, was a model before starring alongside Cary Grant in her film debut in the romantic comedy Every Girl Should Be Married (1948); she became his third wife the following year.

Mary Scranton Remembered As 'Tireless' Advocate

Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett released the following statement regarding the passing of Mary Scranton, the wife of former Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton.

“Mary Scranton was an extraordinary Pennsylvanian who tirelessly served her community, state and country. Her legacy will live on in the countless people she helped during her time as a nurse in WWII, first lady of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an advocate for her community and as a loving wife and mother.”

“Susan and I send our thoughts and prayers to Mary’s family and the many who loved her.”

Another 'On-The-Job Training' Leader? Really?

You Just May Want To Consider This . . .

Monday, December 28, 2015

Movies: Three To See Right Now

It's Christmas and end-of-year movie season as we head up to the Oscar nomination rush.
And among the current flock there are at least three good movies that are worthy of your consideration. Depending on where you live, two of these films may have already been yanked from theaters to make room for blockbusters such as the one (we won't mention the name lest we give it more publicity) that has already grossed more than one billion dollars.

Anyway, let's start with the one that's just arrived at theaters -- the new David O. Russell written and directed Joy, the story of Joy Magnano, the hugely successful businesswoman who started her empire with the invention of the Miracle Mop.
The film reunites Russell with his three favorite players, Jennifer Lawrence (as Joy), Robert De Niro (as Joy's father) and Bradley Cooper (as a TV producer and sometimes mentor).
Lawrence gives a bravura performance as Joy. She embodies a fierceness that reaffirms our belief that women are indeed the stronger sex and always have been. She takes on her role with no less authority and self-assuredness than Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce or Bette Davis in All About Eve.
De Niro is fine and Cooper does his best to make the most of a small role. But it's co-stars Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Édgar Ramírez and Virginia Madsen who manage to steal one scene after another. Rossellini plays De Niro's love interest and Joy's financier with great gusto. Ladd is Joy's soap-opera addicted mom and she dominates her scenes even though she hardly ever leaves her bed. What a joy it is to see these beautiful (and beautifully talented) actresses on the big screen once again! Ramírez is so convincing as Joy's Latin lover, ex-husband and loyalist that he makes you wonder why she ever divorced him. And Madsen is loving and lovable as Joy's grandmother and the wise narrator of the proceedings.
Joy is a big, messy film that juxtaposes times and places and real life sequences and dreams. There are times when it seems like it could use that Miracle Mop that Joy road to fame and fortune. It's not as tight as Russell's Silver Linings Playbook nor as raucous and edgy as The Fighter nor as emblematic as American Hustle. But this is a meaningful and entertaining film nonetheless and it contains important lessons and observations on what it takes to succeed in business and the nature of modern American capitalism.

Trumbo is the updated telling of the story of the dreaded McCarthy era, a time characterized by the Hollywood blacklist and malicious, career-destroying witch hunts in search of communists.
The tale is told through the life of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who actually was an American communist and someone who eventually survived the blacklist, living to once again write screenplays under his own name and also receive numerous honors from an industry that once rejected and scorned him.
Movies about the movie industry have always been tricky endeavors but this one works because, as serious as the subject matter is, the film spotlights the absurdity of the whole era and even manages to interject dashes of irony and humor into the proceedings. And the sheer hypocrisy of most of those involved in the sanctimonious "laundering" of the entertainment industry is/was nothing short of laughable.
The great Bryan Cranston is superb as Dalton Trumbo and the luminescent Diane Lane is wonderful as his always patient, ever supportive, keenly perceptive wife. On top of that, the movie is worth it just for Helen Mirren's depiction of bloodthirsty gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, she of the ubiquitous chapeau. You'll also be treated to a fine performance by Louis C. K. in a supporting role and you'll enjoy the treat of Dean O'Gorman as a young Kirk Douglas.
The movie intermixes actual newsreel footage from the era with recreations of particular events in an effort to give it an air of authenticity. But don't be entirely fooled. There really was an effort by American communists in the 1950's to take down our government from within. And yes, it did involve treason and espionage and some of it was directed from Moscow. Still, the suspicion, panic, suppression and outright tyranny that this was met with in some quarters remain virtually unjustifiable.

Someone has commented that Brooklyn has to be one of the first movies about Ireland and the Irish that doesn't depict the Irish as dark, brooding, violent or drunk and that doesn't mention the IRA or The Troubles.
For that alone, Brooklyn is worth your time.
There are films that unfound like fine novels and watching these films is like reading a wonderful book. You become engrossed and you simply don't want the tale to end.
Such a movie is Brooklyn. There's a finely-crafted human story here. The characters are three-dimensional and believable and the tale is engrossing. What's more, all of the details are marvelously authentic.
Brooklyn tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. When she arrives in America, she's so lonely and homesick that her awkwardness and detachment is palpable. You truly ache for her. But later in the film, when she returns to Ireland to tend to some family matters she finds herself torn between two nations, two cultures and two loves. How this all resolves itself is the real (and wonderfully romantic) story of Brooklyn.
This is a story about growing up, making your way in the world, trusting your instincts and ultimately, moving on.
You won't find any major stars in Brooklyn but you will find an outstanding cast of Irish, British and American actors under the steady, knowing direction of John Crowly combined with a spare, convincing screenplay by Nick Hornby based on the novel by Colm Tóibín. 
This is a beautiful film to watch and a finely-told tale to treasure.
Don't miss Brooklyn!


One Star Who Isn't Afraid To Stand With Military!

"Now is the time where [our troops] need us most."
That was the crux of USO tour veteran Bruce Willis' message when he sat down to record a USO holiday message a couple of week ago. The Emmy Award-winning actor and hero of the "Die Hard" films went on a USO entertainment tour to the Mideast and has been a proud defender of the values we hold dear.
Willis has never been afraid to stand apart from other Hollywood stars in his defense of our nation and its guardians of liberty. Bravo!

Christie Picks Up Major Iowa Endorsement

As New Jersey Governor  Chris Christie heads back to Iowa for another packed three day trip around the state to continue engaging Iowans in town halls and meet and greets, former Iowa GOP co-chair, Mason City Mayor and State Representative Bill Schickel announced his endorsement.

“I am very impressed with the way Governor Christie is reaching out to and connecting with Iowans. On a personal level, he has demonstrated to me that he is the tested and mature leader that Iowa and our nation needs. There is no substitute for executive experience,” said Schickel. “Governor Christie has a strong record of offering conservative solutions and making tough decision as a former US Attorney and a governor. I am honored to be caucusing for him in Mason City on Monday, February 1 and urge Republican friends in all of our 99 counties across Iowa to do the same.”

“I am honored to receive Bill’s support today as we start another three day visit to Iowa,” said Governor Christie. “Bill’s strong voice in his community, and across the state, will be invaluable on our team as we continue to build support leading up to the caucuses.”

Bill Schickel currently serves on the Mason City City Council. He has previously served as the Republican Party of Iowa’s Co-Chair, and is a former three term State Representative, and former three term Mayor of Mason City.

View Christie's full Iowa leadership team here.

Pope: Jesus Had To Beg Parents' Forgiveness

At 10:00 yesterday morning, on the Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. During the celebration, attended by Roman and pilgrim families for the Jubilee of Family, he gave the following homily:

''The biblical readings which we just heard presented us with the image of two families on pilgrimage to the house of God. Elkanah and Hannah bring their son Samuel to the Temple of Shiloh and consecrate him to the Lord. In the same way, Joseph and Mary, in the company of Jesus, go as pilgrims to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.''

''We often see pilgrims journeying to shrines and places dear to popular piety. These days, many of them are making their way to the Holy Door opened in all the cathedrals of the world and in many shrines. But the most beautiful thing which emerges from the word of God today is that the whole family goes on pilgrimage. Fathers, mothers and children together go to the house of the Lord, in order to sanctify the holy day with prayer. It is an important teaching, which is meant for our own families as well. Indeed, we could say that family life is a series of pilgrimages, both small and big.''

''For example, how comforting it is for us to reflect on Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray! This is a sort of pilgrimage, the pilgrimage of education in prayer. And it is comforting also to know that throughout the day they would pray together, and then go each Sabbath to the synagogue to listen to readings from the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord with the assembly. Certainly, during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, they prayed by singing the Psalm: I was glad when they said to me, ''Let us go to the house of the Lord!'' Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem?.''

''How important it is for our families to journey together towards a single goal! We know that we have a road to travel together; a road along which we encounter difficulties but also enjoy moments of joy and consolation. And on this pilgrimage of life we also share in moments of prayer. What can be more beautiful than for a father and mother to bless their children at the beginning and end of each day, to trace on their forehead the sign of the cross, as they did on the day of their baptism? Is this not the simplest prayer which parents can offer for their children? To bless them, that is, to entrust them to the Lord, just like Elkanah and Anna, Joseph and Mary, so that he can be their protection and support throughout the day. In the same way, it is important for families to join in a brief prayer before meals, in order to thank the Lord for these gifts and to learn how to share what we have received with those in greater need. These are all little gestures, yet they point to the great formative role played by the family in the pilgrimage of everyday life.''

''At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents. This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little "escapade", Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn't say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary's question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. Returning home, Jesus surely remained close to them, as a sign of his complete affection and obedience. Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms the moments into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.''

''In the Year of Mercy, every Christian family can become a privileged place on this pilgrimage for experiencing the joy of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the essence of the love which can understand mistakes and mend them. How miserable we would be if God did not forgive us! Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we are certain that we are understood and supported, whatever the mistakes we make.''

''Let us not lose confidence in the family! It is beautiful when we can always open our hearts to one another, and hide nothing. Where there is love, there is also understanding and forgiveness. To all of you, dear families, I entrust this most important mission - the domestic pilgrimage of daily family life - which the world and the Church need, now more than ever.''

Sunday, December 27, 2015

You Won't Believe What This Star Said About Obama!

Comedian/actor David Spade on President Obama's constant need for attention.

Eye-Popping! Wait Till You See THIS!

The 2016 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Explore America" will celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service and our country’s majestic landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture from March 5-13 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

And One More Overused Word of 2015

Yeah, we forgot one word.
Just none more overused word of 2015.
We associate it with a museum curator -- someone who selects, groups and organizes. Now, it's turned into a very active and all-consuming verb.
Because now, websites curate information and musicians curate music and chefs curate foods for your palate and and a boutique curates wardrobes and a travel agent curates your destination. And it's all curated just for you. Isn't that just wonderful!?!

15 Most Over-Used Words, Phrases Of 2015

2015 provided a real workout for tons of words and phrases (some leftover from 2014) which we were forced to hear over and over again.
How we wish they would go away.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are the top 15 most over-used words and phrases of the year:

1) Narrative
As in "that's not the narrative" or "he has to change the narrative." Hey, narrative was pretty much always associated with fiction as in a film narrative or the narrative of a play or book. But now it's entered the ream of real-life as if to suggest we can change the "narrative" of our life or of other's lives just as a politician can (presumably) change the "narrative" of his/her campaign. To which we say: B-a-l-o-n-e-y!

2) Black lives matter.
The latest battle cry of the latest liberal/Black initiative. We heard it again and again this year but, being pro-life anyway, we've long since concluded that life itself matters. Okay?

3) Franchise.
Franchise used to mean McDonald's or Burger King or Taco Bell. But now, every NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB team is a franchise. Downton Abbey is a franchise. Star Wars is a ubiquitous franchise. The Clintons are a franchise. As the name has [wrongly] become synonymous with brands and branding we're being franchised to death. Indeed, funeral homes now offering "life celebrations" are officially franchised. We're franchised from womb to tomb it seems.

4) Legacy.
Everybody seems to be worried about his/her legacy. Even ordinary people (who are now celebritized via Facebook) have to consider their legacy. It's something that all too many of us are obsessed with to the point of calibrating it daily. In fact, one would imagine that President Obama has been consumed by thoughts of his legacy almost since the day he was born. Maybe that's what seems to make him so tiresome these days.

5) Iconic and Ironic.
No, everyone's not iconic and everything's not ironic. In fact, many edifices thought to be iconic are not. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is iconic and so is the Empire State Building and Big Ben and the pyramids and the shape of a Coke bottle. Sinatra remains iconic as well. But Justin Bieber isn't an icon and neither is the London Eye. As for ironic, that only applies to things that happen in the opposite way than what was expected, causing wry amusement. Look it up and find examples that will guide you in the proper use of the word because it's not ironic that you woke up on one side of the bed while your mate woke up on the other -- unless of course each of you woke up on the opposite side from where you retired.

6) No Worries
Does this drive you as crazy as it does us? When someone says "no worries" that's a sure signal to worry. Especially here in the super wound-up northeast where there are always worries -- scads of worries. We've so much to worry about that we worry about getting behind on our worries. Please, don't tell us "no worries"!

7) Microaggression.
The term has now come to include everyday slights, snubs, or insults (however subtle or unintended)  communicating hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based upon their marginalized group membership. But, how can the insulted people be "targeted" if the snubs or insults are "unintended"? And who determines what is a "marginalized" group and who is a member of such a group? There's a word for all this: Stupid!

8) Out of an Abundance of Caution.
As in "out of an abundance of caution" the whole world is going to hell. Because of this abundance of caution, schools are shutting down, planes aren't flying, stores are closing, products are being pulled from store shelves and people are often becoming prisoners in their own homes until,(out of an abundance of caution) they're forced from their homes into the shuttered schools or railroad terminals to wait it all out. Yes, out of an abundance of caution we are now producing an abundance of wimps.

9) War on Women.
A holdover from 2014, this phrase is often coupled with other verbal contraptions such as the hopelessly artificial "reproductive rights" -- a phrase that truly drives us mad. As far as any sane person can tell, women (at least in this country) have never had it better, especially since they've largely succeeded in feminizing the culture. Power comes with responsibility. If you want equal rights, then go to war on the frontlines, on the battlefield and show us how equal you really are.

10) Safe Place and Safe Space.
This sort of goes along with those who are fleeing microaggression and all those other feigned indignities. Hey, in a world where a little baby is no longer safe in its own mother's womb (where that same baby may have his/her body parts carved out and sold) there is no safe place or space anywhere, anymore. Grow up!

11) Trumped, Trumpified, Trumpism.
Hey, enough with the play on The Donald's name already. We get it. It looks like he may be around well into 2016 (and perhaps further) so, let's give it a rest. Besides, he's already attached his name to a zillion edifices himself.

12) Transgender, Trans, Tran and Transgendered.
We've known about it since Christine Jorgenson, which was more than 60 years ago. There's nothing new here. And though there's not quite nothing to see here, there's nothing that we're longing to see, either. Our message: If you want us to consider this "normal" then go on with your life in as ordinary a fashion as humanly possible and please, don't make a spectacle of yourself.

13) Make No Mistake.
We're human. All of us. And we all make mistakes. So, shut up!

14) Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Funding, Locally Sourced.
Crowd sourcing and crowd funding are how the stock market got started and that was in 1817. Locally sourced? Oh, you mean like farm fresh? Crowd sourcing means "Climb on the bandwagon!" Crowd funding means "We want your money!" Yup, these three phrases are just made-up buzzwords created to make you think that something unique is going on. Don't be fooled!

15) Artisanal.
Another holdover and another totally phony concoction. Have you ever heard of crafting something or making it by hand? Have you heard of something that was homemade? Yeah, like something you or I might be able to do at home. Like those cookies you made for Christmas. You're an arTEEST! Oh my, that's soooo artisanal. Voila!

16) Here's just one more: Engagement.
The word was pretty much always associated with betrothals -- the path to marriage. But, who the hell knows what marriage even is anymore, so now it's all about our collective engagement as in "civic engagement." Do you want to have a conversation or hold a meeting or hear from others? Then, you will have to "engage" them. We will all become engaged! It's all so damned engaging, isn't it?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

US, France, Russia, Germany Top Blog Visits

Pageviews by Countries - Week of 12/20

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
Thank you for more than
4,000 pageviews this week!

Dan Cirucci Blog - Week's Top Five Posts

For the Week of 12/20

So, What The Hell Is Boxing Day, Anyway? Huh?

Today is Boxing Day in Great Britain and most of the Commonwealth nations.
The day after Christmas is customarily observed as a legal holiday.
No, the Brits do not all run out to boxing matches.
But they do enjoy soccer games today and they do lots of shopping today as well. The Queen and her entourage (such as they are) engage in fox hunting.
Where did the day get its name?
No one quite knows.
Many think it comes from the idea of boxing up Christmas stuff and/or sorting through your Christmas boxes (your gifts). But history says this is also the day when servants would get their Christmas gifts (cash and/or boxed treats) from their masters -- a sort of littler, humbler Christmas. Here's how it worked: Since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.
It was also a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year. In England Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much like the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price reductions. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest amount of returns. In the UK in 2009 it was estimated that up to 12 million shoppers appeared at the sales, a rise of almost 20% compared to 2008.
So, in the spirit of the day -- box, shop, spend, eat, dink and enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Magical Island Glows With Christmas Spirit!

When it comes to Christmas, Hilton Head Island is not the lest bit shy -- not this Christmas, not any Christmas, not anywhere on the island.
The operative sentiment is "Merry Christmas" and it's even done up in lights just about anywhere you go.
The island's signature community, Sea Pine goes all out for the Christmas season with spectacular light displays at Sea Pines Center and at Harbour Town. Even the iconic lighthouse is all aglow.
Christmas should be bright and festive and joyous.
And on beautiful Hilton Head, that's exactly the way it is.

Not Too Late: Give HERE To The Salvation Army!

These jolly Salvation Army bell ringers stand outside Macy's on Herald Square in Manhattan and they dance merrily, spreading Christmas cheer to all those who pass by.
You know, it's not to late to contribute!
We snapped this photo and thanked them for all they do. And of course, we contributed - again.
What would Christmas be without The Salvation Army? 
And what would the world be without their endless good works -- helping so many, everywhere and Doing The Most Good.
Have you contributed this year?
Click here now to contribute to the Salvation Army. Give generously!

This Christmas, Enjoy What's REALLY Important!

A Christmas message from

Did You Get What You Wanted For Christmas?

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas?
We know that some of you had some unusual requests . . . good luck with that!

Christmas In Italy - Buon Natale É Tutti!

On Christmas Eve in Italy, Christmas trees are decorated, but the focal point of decoration is the Nativity scene.
Italians take great pride in the creation of the manger, which was thought up in 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi, who wanted to involve the peasants in celebrating the life of Jesus.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City possesses a presepio from Naples that contains figurines carved from wood and dressed in garments of satin, along with 30 gold-trimmed angels of the Magi, all framed by majestic columns.
Bagpipes are the most common Italian Christmas sound. The zampognari, the shepherds who play the bagpipes, come down from their mountain homes at Christmas time and perform in the market squares. The playing of bagpipes is popular in the regions of Calabria and Abruzzo, and in the piazzas of Rome.
The melodies played are adapted from old hill tunes. Modern zampognari wear the traditional outfits of sheepskin vests, leather breeches, and a woolen cloak.
The tradition of bagpipes goes back to ancient Roman times. Legend says that the shepherds entertained the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem.
On Christmas, the zampognari perform their own private pilgrimage, stopping before every shrine to the Madonna and every Nativity scene.
Children in Italy believe in a female version of Santa Claus called La Befana, an old woman who flies on a broom and brings presents.
According to Italian legend, Three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem. La Befana was asked to join them but declined three times. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but she was too late.
She never found the Christ child and has been searching ever since.
On January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, La Befana goes out on her broom to drop off stockings filled with treats to all the sleeping children of Italy.
Just as children in America leave milk and cookies for jolly Santa Claus, La Befana collects messages and refreshments throughout the night.
Buon Natale è tutti!