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Headlines: Getting Up to Speed

Friday, December 08 ** Final Edition

Reporting this morning from just off New Jersey Turnpike Exit 4... you gotta problem with that???!
   Weather: The Southern California fires continue and new ones break out.
   Holidaze: PRESIDENT TRUMP hosted his first White House Hanukkah party last night.
   Politics as usual: The Senate votes 81-to-14 to pass a two-week stopgap funding bill.
   Power politics: AL FRANKEN resigns from the Senate. Congressman TRENT FRANKS resigns as well.
   Silly: SantaCon is coming to town again this year --in a bunch of cities starting tomorrow!
   Business: Starbucks introduces a Christmas Tree Frappuccino!
   People: STEVEN TYLER took time out to celebrate the grand opening of Janie's House in Atlanta.
   Peeps: Rapper MEEK MILL is reportedly getting into the groove of life behind bars.
   Gossip: LINDSAY LOHAN is back on American soil.
   Shocking: Two students are killed in an Arizona school shooting.
   Broadway: There will be a new "Hamilton" in the Broadway production.
   Fashion: Uggs is launching a new line of boots with heels!
   Crime: New York man arrested for swindling Tinder dates out of nearly $50-thousand dollars.
   Television: "Game of Thrones" star says the show's final season won't be starting until 2019.
   Hollywood: "Coco" expected to top the box office for a third weekend.
   Rappers on Parade: DIDDY is the highest-paid musician of the year. Again.
   Music: ED SHEERAN got his MBE yesterday.
   Old School: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announces the top-five vote getters for the Class of 2018.
   Sucking Up: DJ countersued by TAYLOR SWIFT for groping her says he paid her last week.
   Boonies: A New Jersey ice cream parlor is changing its logo after people complained it was sexist.
   Football: The annual Army-Navy game is Saturday at 3 pm (Eastern).
   Thursday Night Football: The Atlanta Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints, 20-17.
   Health: A generic version of Viagra will become available for the first time on Monday.
   Survey Sez: The flu season in the United States is gaining speed, particularly in the South.
   --Plus-- more of the trash you've come to expect!


Holiday mailing: 
Busiest mailing and delivery days for the Post Office: the Postal Service predicts that this Mon, Dec 18, will be the busiest mailing and shipping day for holiday packages, letters and cards. The busiest mailing day also is expected to be the Postal Service’s busiest day online with more than seven million customers predicted to visit Thu, Dec 21, is expected to be the busiest delivery day for holiday packages, cards and letters. The Postal Service anticipates that more than 30 million packages will be delivered on the peak delivery day alone.

Christmas food traditions: Eggnog
Food historian and Babson College professor FREDERICK DOUGLASS OPIE explains on his blog that eggnog most likely evolved from British aristocracy.
   While the lower class couldn’t afford fresh milk and eggs, "the wealthy would at times drink their warm milk and egg beverage seasoned with pricey spices, such as ground nutmeg and cinnamon," and add pricey liquors, such as brandy and sherry, to prevent spoilage. When the drink made its way to colonial America in the 18th century, colonists added rum instead of the heavily taxed brandy or wine. (Kaye)

'Tis the season of caroling, pie, presents, shopping and --of course-- booze to wash it all down. So what do you do if your wine has turned with a house full of guests? First of all, do not panic, then grab your change purse. Cosmopolitan magazine reports you can fix a bottle of spoiled vino by tossing a clean penny inside a glass, stirring it around the grown-up grape juice and pulling it back out. Apparently the copper in the penny will create copper sulfide crystals to form and make your beverage drinkable once again. (Lee)

Entertaining for the holidays can be a delight or dreadful depending on the host's disposition. Luckily, RACHAEL RAY is here to save the day with some simple tips to enjoy your next get-together. The perky chef tells the UK's Daily Mail that she loves throwing "bring your own meatball parties," is a big believer in cooking "casual foods" and loves having small groups of people over so she can mingle with her friends and family. (Lee)

Holiday gift-giving ...and re-gift-giving: 
Wotta surprise: a survey from Harris Interactive and shows nearly 40 percent of US adults have re-gifted. For those uninitiated, that means getting a gift from somebody and then turning around and giving it to someone else. Frighteningly, this is about the same as last year.

   Worse, only eight percent say they've ever been caught at the practice. Although maybe the person who got the gift was being polite, because another 32 percent --about one-third-- say they're sure they got a re-gift.
   Phoner: By the way, the same survey asked people what the most awkward gift they ever received was. Some of the answers:
   --Bag of dog food. I have a cat.
   --A boyfriend of one month bought me an engagement ring that I turned down.
   --Three expired bottles of barbeque sauce.

   --A giant box of condoms from my mother, who said she didn't want grandchildren any time soon.
   --Jar of hemorrhoid pads.
   --Gift card with zero balance on it.
   --Glow-in-the-dark handcuffs.
   --A used fanny pack with a boot print on it.

Office gift-giving: 
These tough financial times are hell on the wallet --and the conscience! What can you do if you'd like to give a Christmas or other holiday gift but simply don't have the cash? suggests a few tips for sticking to a budget while displaying good etiquette!
   1. Suggest a Gift Grab. Trade names or impose a spending limit --everyone will probably be grateful even if you're the only one brave enough to broach the subject.

   2. Wrap Your Skills. Making your own gifts is great if you're crafty, but don't forget about other natural talents. If you're tech-savvy, help someone set up a blog. Do-it-yourselfers would certainly bring a smile to someone with a few hours of handy-dandy know-how.
   3. Give the Gift of Time. Busy parents would love a night off to attend a movie, while clutterbugs would probably appreciate the chance to have their home office organized.

   4. Re-Gift Carefully. Only give things that you're sure the person would love.
   5. Gift Appropriately at the Office. The general etiquette is to give only to those who work for you, like assistants, interns and employees.
   6. Don't Feel Pressure to Match Gifts. Surprised by someone's generosity? Be honest. Don't say you left anything at home or other silly excuses, confess you stayed on budget and sincerely thank them for the present. If feasible, offer to meet them for a movie, lunch or coffee and pick up the check. (Lee)

Five things she really wants for Christmas: 
'Tis the season of giving, which sounds delightful until the pressure of buying something nice for that special lady really hits. Relax, fellas --the little Santas over at came up with five things she really wants for Christmas!
   1. Something That Makes Us Feel Incredibly Beautiful. Jewelry, lingerie or anything pretty will probably fit the bill --just makes sure it screams: "I love looking at you."

   2. Something That Makes Us Feel Incredibly Smart. This could be a subscription to the New York Times or a month of gourmet cooking classes, but should convey that you value her intellect.
   3. Something That Makes Us Feel Incredibly Funny. Even the most sophisticated lady loves a silly tee-shirt or iconic wall-hanging and everyone adores making people laugh!

   4. Something That Makes Us Feel Like We're an Incredibly Good Mom. A charm bracelet with the littles' faces or family portrait will have her beaming with pride.
   5. Something That Makes Us Feel Like We Deserve a Break. It doesn't have to be a month at a tropical location, but a week of specially-prepared meals or spa day should do the trick.
   FYI: Monday --a dozen things she doesn't want for Christmas! (Lee)

Six holiday decorating mistakes you might be making
   1. You've gone from festive to cluttered. Keep tiny mementos to a minimum or you'll wind up looking like a crazy hoarder. Meanwhile, don't hang more lights than you can remember to turn off.
   2. Your color palette is limited to red and green. Silver, gold and winter whites are also great colors to celebrate the season.
   3. You put out one too many lawn inflatables. Snoopy, Barbie, Spongebob Squarepants and Winnie the Pooh can all co-exist, but probably not in your front yard.
   4. You go crazy with the scented candles. Ditch the store-bought stuff and whip up a batch of stovetop potpourri.
   5. You forget the best decor can be picked up in your front yard. Why spend a small fortune on something "fancy" when a few pinecones and branches can give you instant rustic-chic?
   6. You keep all your Christmas cards in a countertop pile. Grab a piece of twine or ribbon, then hang a sentimental garland in just a few minutes! (Lee)

Ho, Ho, Ho --SantaCon 2017: 
Santa is coming to town again this year. SantaCon is a not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious & non-logical Santa Claus "convention." Last year the rolling Santa Convention took on various cities and men dressed as the Jolly Old Elf wandered through cities, spreading love and drinking lots of holiday cheer.
   It's sponsored by the Cacophonist Society, and it's already started --this year there are 393 locations in 52 countries!

   This Saturday: Albuquerque, NM; Austin, TX; Benicia, CA; Buffalo, NY; Calgary, AB; Capitola, CA; Charleston, SC; Colorado Springs, CO; Columbia, SC; Corvallis, OR; Dallas, TX; Dyckman Street, NY; Eureka, CA; Fargo, ND; Fort Collins, CO; Fort Wayne, IN; Fresno, CA; Hood River, OR; Kent Island, MD; Los Angeles, CA; Manchester, NH; Mobile, AL; Monroe, MI; Nashville, TN; New Bedford, MA; New London, CT; New York, NY; Newport, RI; Newport Beach, CA; Norwich, CT; Ocean City, MD; Oklahoma City, OK; Palmer, AK; Phoenix, AZ; Princeton, NJ; Reno, NV; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; Santa Rosa, CA; St Augustine, FL; St Louis, MO; State College, PA; Syracuse, NY; Ventura, CA; Washington, DC; West Palm Beach, FL; Wichita, KS; Wilmington, NC. For a complete list of SantaCon locations, please check HERE.

   Since 1994, hundreds of jolly but evil Santa's helpers get dressed up and run through the city, chanting stuff like "Whose street? Santa's street!" much to the bewilderment of children and amusement of adults. Then again, any angry motorist or pedestrian might have second thoughts before getting into a verbal tangle. As one Santa, named ANDY, said: "Who's gonna pick a fight with 500 Santas?"

   Everyone gives reporters their name as "Santa" and their address as the North Pole although there are variations on the theme like Elvis Santas, Pimp Claus, Pirate Santa and even an occasional heavy-metal Van Halen Santa.

   At a recent Santacon, participants sang variations on carols --like "Frosty the Cokehead" and "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire." Then it's onto a bar for belching competitions and other fun. Said one Santa: "Basically we go until we pass out." For more information on Santacon (and a hilarious FAQ sheet) head over to
   PS: It's expanding, too... there's a BunnyCon and a PirateCon scheduled, too!

How to tell a good Santa from a bad Santa: 
Good Santa: Climbs down the chimney bearing gifts
Bad Santa: Breaks into your apartment from window
Good Santa: Keeps careful track of which girls and boys are naughty and nice
Bad Santa: Keeps careful track of which girls are naughty

Good Santa: Showers children with presents
Bad Santa: Hasn't showered in a month
Good Santa: Magically gets to millions of homes on Christmas Eve
Bad Santa: As unionized city employee with job security, can't be fired if he only gets to two or three homes

Good Santa: Has generous, love filled heart
Bad Santa: Has liver the size of a volleyball
Good Santa: Gets around by Flying Reindeer
Bad Santa: Has a bus pass

Good Santa: Takes trips around the world
Bad Santa: Pays hookers for a trip around the world
Good Santa
: Has a special on Fox
Bad Santa: Gets arrested on COPS