A miracle is taking place.


Tonight is the start of Hanukkah.

This year, my first Hanukkah gift to you is to remind you that there is no Kathy Lee Gifford Hanukkah Special.

Ok bunkies, today is the fourth and last Sunday of the Advent season. The day is called the Fourth Sunday of Advent, sorry no fancy french or Latin name.

The fourth candle is lit on this day along with the first three.

The fourth candle is often called the Angel candle. It represents the messengers who announced the birth of the Messiah.

Go talk to the old ladies in the back of the church about your new found knowledge.

December 18, 1966 -
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas aired for the first time on CBS on this date.

Though all of the production and character designs were based upon original artwork from the book, Dr. Seuss thought that the Grinch more closely resembled Chuck Jones rather than the original Grinch drawings.

December 18, 1966 -
The Pink Panther cartoon series premiered with the episode titled The Pink Blueprint on this date

The Pink Panther character, created for the animated opening credits of The Pink Panther movie, was so popular that this short was produced as a starring vehicle for the character. The short marks the only time a studio has won an Oscar with its first cartoon release.

December 18, 1969 -
The sixth film in the James Bond film series, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, starring George Lazenby, Telly Savalis, and Diana Riggs, premiered in the US on this date.

The producers originally intended to explain the change of lead actors in this movie by saying that Bond had undergone plastic surgery because his "old" face was now too well-known by foreign spies and terrorists for him to go undercover. But they then decided not to refer to the change at all, and thus hopefully minimize the public attention being paid to George Lazenby's replacing Sean Connery. However, after the opening action sequence, right before the titles, Bond says directly to the camera, "This never happened to the other fellow", an intentionally comedic reference to the change in actors.

December 18, 1970 -
The cult classic western, El Topo (The Mole), directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky and starring Alejandro Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, and Mara Lorenzio premiered in the US on this date.

The film was released as an underground film, it was thanks to John Lennon that the film acquired a worldwide distribution. He was so impressed by this movie that he urged a close friend of his to buy the rights and take charge of distribution.

December 18, 1982 -
Daryl Hall and John Oates' single Maneater was #1 on the Billboard charts, on this date.

This is one of several Hall & Oates songs that Daryl Hall's longtime girlfriend Sara Allen had a hand in writing - she's credited on the track along with the duo. According to Hall, his original lyric had some additional words in the chorus after "she's a maneater." Allen convinced him to end the line there, which Hall says made the song come together.

December 18, 1987 -
The sleeper hit romantic comedy, Moonstruck, directed by Norman Jewison, written by John Patrick Shanley, and starring Danny Aiello, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis and, oh yea, Cher, premiered in the US on this date. (This is a big favorite in our house.)

According to casting director Howard Feuer, both Anne Bancroft and Maureen Stapleton had been considered for the role of Cher's mother, but their fees were too expensive for the production budget. Feuer remembered Olympia Dukakis, a character actress known for years to most in casting, she read for director Norman Jewison and he hired her instantly.

December 18, 1989 -
An I Love Lucy Christmas episode, nicknamed "The Lost Episode" because it was not included in the syndication package, was shown for first time in over 30 years on this date.

The Christmas episode was not included in the usual syndication package because of its holiday theme and because it mostly consists of flashbacks to previous episodes.

December 18, 1998 -
Warner Brothers releases the romantic film You've Got Mail (A remake of the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner,) directed by Nora Ephron and starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, on this date.

One thing that distinguishes this film from any prior source material (Hungarian play, Hollywood movie, Hollywood musical, Broadway musical) is that both main characters are in relationships while they flirt with each other. The leads in all other versions were single. The idea of infidelity does come up in all but the Hollywood musical, but it's such a terrible transgression that the characters involved are duly punished for it.

December 18, 2002 -
Paramount Pictures adaptation of the Michael Cunningham novel, The Hours, starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman (and her outrageous prosthetic nose,) Ed Harris, John C. Reilly, Jeff Daniels, Miranda Richardson, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, and Eileen Atkins, premiered in the US on this date.

Nicole Kidman loved wearing the prosthetic nose and wore it in private too, mainly as she was undergoing a divorce from Tom Cruise at the time and was attracting a lot of paparazzi interest. Much to her delight, by wearing her fake nose out and about, she found she could easily evade the paparazzi as they didn't recognize her.

December 18, 2009 -
Twentieth Century Fox began printing money when James Cameron's Avatar, starring Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, was released on this date.

Director James Cameron, known for being tough on set, allegedly kept a nail gun on set that he would use to nail cell phones that had the misfortune of ringing to a wall above the exit sign.

Don't forget to use only ACME brand Hanukkah candles - made with the wax of learned bees.

Today in History:
December 18, 1626 -
Christina (Kristina), Queen of Sweden, later known as Maria Christina Alexandra, Minerva of the North, Protectress of the Jews at Rome and sometimes Count Dohna, was born on this date. Like most royalty and some presidents, Christina did not have to carry money, a passport or consistently spell her name the same way.

Kristina's father, King Gustav II Adolf, wanted a boy and decreed she be given the best education possible. Christina's mother, Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg, an early proponent of Jewish guilt as a tool for childhood rearing, repeatedly told Kristina about the 'horrors' of sex and childbirth. These factors may have prejudiced Christina against the prospect of having to produce an heir to the throne and convinced her to adopt the dress and manner of a man.

True story: in the winter of 1650 the magnificent Queen Kristina of Sweden summoned Rene Descartes to Stockholm to tutor her in philosophy. With his trademark optimism ("I think warm, therefore I am not cold"), he accepted the invitation and hurried up from Paris. Not long after his arrival, he died of pneumonia. But I digress ...

Queen Kristina, or the Girl King as she liked to be known, (as opposed to King Ludwig of Bavaria the Boy Queen, but that's another story) chose the rather shockingly ungodly motto (probably sarcastically) that "Wisdom is the Prop of the Realm." She abdicated in 1654 converted to Catholicism and dashed around Europe on a white horse, wearing men's clothing and studying philosophy and sleeping with men and women. She is one of the only few women buried within St. Peter's Basilica.

In the 1930s, she was portrayed by Greta Garbo in the film Queen Christina. Garbo basically modeled her later life on this character except for the converting thing.

Liberty and Prosperity

New Jersey was the third state admitted to the Union, on this date in 1787. It was the first state to sign the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. It derives its name from the isle of Jersey, just off England's shore (and also near Britain).

The official state bird of New Jersey is the American Goldfinch.

The state bug is the honey bee (apis mellifera).

The state tree is the red oak (Quercus borealis maxima). The state flower is the common meadow violet (Viola sororia). The state shell is the knobbed whelk, also known as the conch shell (Busycon carica gmelin). The state fish is the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), the state animal is the horse (Equus caballus),

and the state dinosaur is the Hadrosaurus (Hadrosaurus foulkii).

The eggplant is not the official vegetable of New Jersey because it's not a vegetable. It's a fruit - berry, actually - and New Jersey claims to produce two-thirds of all the eggplant in the world. (It's a bogus claim, and one that leaves me wondering not so much about the world eggplant situation, but the mindset of whoever thought it would enhance New Jersey's reputation if people thought it was the world's leading producer of eggplant. I mean, eggplant?)

Blueberries became the official berry of New Jersey in 2004. Before that, many thought it was almost certainly the eggplant, which would predictably cause great confusion among persons accustomed to putting berries in their cereal.

New Jersey has a population of 8.48 million on 7,417 square miles of land. It's the fifth smallest state in the country. With 1,134 people per square mile, it's the densest state in the nation. The relative density of New Jersey should come as no surprise to anyone who's ever driven behind a car with Jersey plates.

And we didn't have to mention the ex-president's golf course.

December 18, 1839 -
In New York City, John Draper makes a daguerreotype of the Moon,

becoming the first person in the U.S. to photograph a celestial body.

December 18, 1892 -
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite publicly premiered in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at the Maryinsky Theater on this date.

The first performance of The Nutcracker was not deemed a success. The reaction to the dancers themselves was ambivalent. Reception was better for Tchaikovsky's score.

December 18, 1940 -
Hitler issued formal orders to the German armed forces to begin the detailed planning for the invasion of Russia, known as Operation Barbarossa. The invasion was launched June 22, 1941.

On the same day Hitler gave a speech to officer cadets which outlined his philosophy, central to which was his belief that the German people needed more ‘living space’ or ‘Lebensraum’:

Whatever the military arguments around the invasion of Russia it was the perceived need to seize more ‘Lebensraum’, combined with his long standing, deep seated hatred of ‘Bolshevism’ that lay as the prime motivator behind the decision to launch Barbarossa.

(I'm not clear if this will be on the test.)

December 18, 1965 -
Gemini VII splashes down in the western Atlantic Ocean with command pilot Frank Borman and pilot Jim Lovell Jr. on board.

The mission was launched on December 4 for the purpose of physiological testing and spacecraft performance evaluations.

Before you go - it's the anniversary of the passing of the the singer Kirsty MacColl. I can think of no better remembrance of her than playing this holiday classic.

After their second album Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, The Pogues wanted to release a Christmas single. Instead of a cover song, lead singer Shane MacGowan and banjo player Jem Finer decided to write one themselves. The first attempts to record this were as a duet with MacGowan and Pogues bass player Cait O'Riordan.

They didn't have the song ready for a Christmas single, so they recorded it for their third album, If I Should Fall From Grace With God, which was produced by Steve Lillywhite. Lillywhite took tapes home and had his wife, Kirsty MacColl record a scratch vocal, but her voice was so good that they decided to keep it.

Before you go - Here's another gift suggestion from the back shelves of the ACME Catalogue

And so it goes

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