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Quote of the day
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Published Friday, December 31, 2010 @ 10:36 AM EST
Dec 31 2010

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.
-Benjamin Franklin


Categories: Quotes of the day


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My Blackberry's not working
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Published Thursday, December 30, 2010 @ 2:13 AM EST
Dec 30 2010

(from the BBC's "The One Ronnie")


Categories: Video, YouTube


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Right between the eyes II
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Published Wednesday, December 29, 2010 @ 7:51 PM EST
Dec 29 2010

It turns out my decrepit ocular system and aging brain can, in fact, process two polarized images and generate a stereoscopic one.

The problem is I'm extremely myopic, or nearsighted. Myopia happens when the eye focuses incoming light not on the retina, but at a point in front of it. In short, my eyballs are too long. The corrective lenses I've worn since fourth grade shift the focus back to my retinas' surfaces and make it possible for me not to have to live like a human mole.

Most people with myopia require a -1 to -3 diopter correction to achieve normal vision. I need -9.25 diopter for my right eye and -8.25 for my left.

The minus sign in front of the diopter value indicates that in shifting the focal point backward, the image will be reduced in size, rather than magnified. A +10 diopter lens makes a decent magnifying glass. The -9.25 diopter lens needed to correct the vision in my right eye significantly reduces the size of the image passing through it:

What this means is that the objects I see, while in sharp focus, appear significantly smaller to me than they would to someone who doesn't wear glasses. It also means I have a broader field of view. I like to think of it as having CinemaScope vision, but having to sit in the last row of the theater.

It gets better. Like most people over the age of 40, I have presbyopia, which means my eyes have lost their elasticity and have difficulty focusing close-up. To compensate for this, I wear progressive lenses- "lineless" bifocals.

The corrective value varies gradually moving down from the center of the lens, until an additional +2.50 is reached at the bottom. The top provides my distance vision; the bottom my near vision correction.

With all these optical gymnastics, it's no surprise the performance of the lenses aren't linear. As you move away from the strip down the center of the lens, various aberrations and distortions occur. Watch progressive lens wearers, and you'll notice that if they're doing something that requires high visual acuity, they'll move their heads instead of their eyes in order to maintain the optical "sweet spot" in the center of the lens that provides the clearest vision.

So what does this have to do with watching 3D movies?

I think the problem is optical overload. The projected image requires polarized lenses to isolate what each eye should see. I have to place the 3D glasses over my prescription lenses, which undoubtedly causes shifts in the correction.

Then there's the progressive lens problem. I have to look through the very top of the lens to get undistorted distance vision, but even the top of the lens has variations that caused the 3D image to distort or drop out in some places.

It would be nice if the industry would standardize on a single 3D process, and perhaps sell polarized corrective lenses to movie fans at cost. If the 3D fad continues, I may consider buying a pair of fixed focal length lenses strictly for distance (and movie theater) viewing.

That said, the 3D effects in Tron: Legacy were superb. While the IMAX theaters popping up in multiplexes aren't "real" IMAX (huge screens and 70mm film projection), they represent the best presentation of a movie you're likely to see. The screen is a bit bigger than the normal multiplex, and is located closer to the audience to provide a more immersive effect. IMAX digital projectors generate about a third more light output than standard units, and for 3D, two projectors are used. People often complain about the dimness of 3D films. The picture looked sharp and vibrant to me. And if the pretty pictures don't get your attention, the 14,000 watt sound system certainly will.

As for the movie itself- well, you'll either get it, or you won't. If you do, you'll want to see it multiple times. Forget the complaints about plot and characters. The Thunderbolt has neither, yet it's still a kick-ass experience.

Ditto for Tron.


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Right between the eyes
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Published Tuesday, December 28, 2010 @ 7:43 AM EST
Dec 28 2010

I'm off to see Tron Legacy: An IMAX 3D Experience this morning with my kids and granddaughter.

This will my first real 3D movie- aside from the gimmick-laden theme park presentations like Captain Eo and Terminator 2:3D- and I'm a bit apprehensive.

My vision continues to decline as I age. My abysmal night vision limits my nocturnal wanderings to familiar, well-lit main roads within five miles or so of home. I'm a bit concerned that once I strap a set of polarizing lenses atop my existing eyewear, the effective photon throughput to my retinas will result in my having paid $11 to look at vague blobs of light accompanied by techno dance music.

And, assuming enough light penetrates my thick, Hubble-like lenses to provide usable data to my retinas, there's always the possibility my brain won't be able to merge the two images into 3D.

My right eye is significantly weaker than my left eye, so it requires additional magnification. This results in a smaller image, so that when I look at a page in a book with my left eye and then my right, the right eye registers the page as being slightly, but noticeably, smaller.

Under normal conditions, my brain so far has been able to compensate for each eye's size discrepancies, and can merge the two into a stereo image. But I'm right at the point where I could begin experiencing something called binocular rivalry. Instead of fusing the two images into a single 3D picture, my brain might allow me to see only one of the two images, or randomly alternate between them. If that's the case, then I'm out of luck.

Oddly enough, we had trouble viewing the original Tron back in 1982. But that was because the South Hills Drive-In's projectionist wanted to be home by 1 am, so he started the film ten minutes before sunset. It really didn't matter; we all still had a great time, and we're looking forward to recapturing that original experience.

Here's hoping the multiplex doesn't have some absurd policy banning pajamas and lawn chairs.


Categories: KGB Family


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Observation of the day
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Published Monday, December 27, 2010 @ 9:02 AM EST
Dec 27 2010

Christmas songs performed after December 25 should be sung in Russian or Serbian.

Here's why:

This information was part of the original (pre-Motif) DECwindows help file which accompanied VMS version 5.3.

Brief History of the Gregorian Calendar

by Marios Cleovoulou
http://www.cleovoulou.com/
Copyright © 1988, 1989 by Digital Equipment Corporation.

As decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, October 4, 1582, was followed by October 15, 1582. Thus ended the 1600-year reign of the Julian calendar upon which the Gregorian calendar is based, and thus began the calendar which DECwindows Calendar uses to measure time.

Calendars based on sun and moon movement were used even by the ancients, but the first reasonably accurate one was the 365 1/4-day cycle calculated by the Greek Sosigenes. This was the calendar authorized by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. The Julian calendar (not to be confused with the Julian period; see below) had 3 years of 365 days each, followed by a fourth year of 366 days.

The 365 1/4-day cycle was more accurately defined in 730 AD by the Venerable Bede, an Anglo-Saxon monk, who shortened the time by 11 minutes, 14 seconds. This accumulates to a whole day's error every 128 years, or a little more than 3 days every 400 years. This being the Dark Ages, nothing was done to adjust the Calendar, despite Roger Bacon sending a note to Pope Clement IV, informing him of the drifting of the date for the vernal equinox. Later, Pope Sixtus IV did become convinced that another reform was needed and called the German astronomer Regiomontanus to Rome to advise him. Unfortunately, Regiomontanus died of the plague shortly thereafter and the plans died with him.

Thursday, October 4, 1582 was the next time the calendar was adjusted. This last day of the Julian calendar was followed by Friday, October 15. So began the Gregorian calendar that we use today, named after Pope Gregory XIII. He commissioned the mathematician Father Christopher Clavius, S.J., to do the necessary calculations, having been authorized to reform the calendar by the Council of Trent in 1545.

The Vatican librarian Aloysius Giglio provided a formula for long-range accuracy. He suggested that every fourth year be a leap year, except for century years that are not divisible by 400. Thus 1700, 1800, and 1900 would not be leap years, but 2000 would be, because 2000 is divisible by 400. This rule eliminated 3 leap years every 4 centuries, making the calendar sufficiently correct for most ordinary purposes.

Political Acceptance in Europe

Italy, Portugal, and Luxembourg. By 1584, Belgium, parts of the Netherlands, Switzerland, and most Catholic German states had joined, and by 1587, so had Hungary. It was not until 1699-1700 that these countries were joined by the rest of the Netherlands, Denmark, and the Protestant German countries.

By the time the British imposed the calendar on all its possessions, in 1752, 11 days needed to be lost. September 2, 1752, was thus decreed to be followed by September 14. In addition, New Year's day was moved back from March 25 to January 1. (For example, before, March 24, 1700 had been followed by March 25, 1701). Among other repercussions, this moved Washington's birth date from February 11, 1731, to February 22, 1732. The following year, 1753, Sweden too adopted the calendar.

In 1793, the French Revolutionary government adopted a calendar of 12 months of 30 days each, with 5 extra days in September (6 on leap years). The Gregorian calendar was reinstated in 1806 by Napoleon.

Political Acceptance World Wide

Adoption of the calendar in countries outside Europe and its Crown possessions occurred much later, and often in conjunction with political upheaval: Japan in 1873, Egypt in 1875, China in 1912, and Turkey in 1917.

In 1918, Russia's revolutionary government decreed that January 31, 1918, would be followed by February 14, 1918.

Religious Acceptance Worldwide

German Protestants used the old calendar until 1776, three quarters of a century after their countries had adopted the Gregorian system.

Sweden retained the old Easter rules for 90 years after switching to the Gregorian calendar, and many Middle Eastern Christian sects still retain the Julian calendar.

The Russian Orthodox Church still follows the Julian system.

The Julian Period

Astronomers use the Julian period because it is convenient to express long time intervals in days rather than months, weeks and years. It was devised by Joseph Scaliger, in 1582, who named it after his father Julius, thus creating the confusion between the Julian (Caesar) calendar and the Julian (Scaliger) period.

Julian Day 1 began at 12:00 noon, January 1, 4713 BC. This date was thought by some to correspond approximately to the beginning of the universe. Certainly it predated any known astronomical events known in the 16th century without resorting to negative times. Scaliger decided on the actual date on the grounds that it was the most recent coincidence of three major chronological cycles:

- The 28-year solar cycle, after which dates in the Julian calendar (for example September 27) return to the same days of the week (for example Tuesday).

- The 19-year lunar cycle, after which phases of the moon return to the same dates of the year.

- The 15-year indiction cycle, used in ancient Rome for tax regulation.

It takes 7980 years to complete the cycle. Noon of January 1, 1988, marks the beginning of Julian Day 2447161.

The Julian period is also of interest because of its use as a time base by the VMS operating system.

VMS and the Julian Period or:
Why VMS regards November 17, 1858,
as the beginning of time...

The modified Julian date adopted by SAO (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) for satellite tracking is Julian Day 2400000, which turns out to be November 17, 1858.

SAO started tracking satellites with an 8K (nonvirtual) 36-bit IBM 704 in 1957, when Sputnik went into orbit. The Julian day was 2435839 on January 1, 1957. This is 11225377 octal, which was too big to fit into an 18-bit field. With only 8K of memory, the 14 bits left over by keeping the Julian date in its own 36-bit word would have been wasted. They also needed the fraction of the current day (for which 18 bits gave enough accuracy), so it was decided to keep the number of days in the left 18 bits and the fraction of a day in the right 18 bits of one word.

Eighteen bits allows the truncated Julian day (the SAO day) to grow as large as 262143, which from November 17, 1858, allowed for 7 centuries. Possibly, the date could only grow as large as 131071 (using 17 bits), but this still covers 3 centuries and leaves the possibility of representing negative time. The 1858 date preceded the oldest star catalogue in use at SAO, which also avoided having to use negative time in any of the satellite tracking calculations.

Ultrix (Unix) Time Origins

The beginning of time for Ultrix systems is:

Thursday January 1 00:00:00 1970

The reason for this date being chosen is that this was the year that UNIX, the "father" of Ultrix, was first released.

Thus dates prior to 1970 are BU; 1970 and later dates are AU.

History and DECwindows Calendar

If you read the topics concerning the political and religious acceptance of the Gregorian calendar, you will see that there is a problem: there are many dates for the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. For example, the British (and therefore the Americans) converted in September 1752, so British and American Calendar users might expect Calendar to show September 2, 1752, to be followed by September 14, 1752. However, a Russian user would expect to see this jump between January 31, 1918, and February 14, 1918.

DECwindows Calendar conforms to the date of the original decree, therefore no days have been lost since Friday, October 15, 1582, nor since the beginning of DECwindows Calendar time: January 1, 1600. Thus for everyone except for users from the majority of the Catholic European countries, which all converted before this date, there will appear to be an "error" in Calendar, where the conversion actually took place. This generalization was felt to be acceptable for an application not specifically designed for historians.


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If Monet had used shelties as subjects...
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Published Sunday, December 26, 2010 @ 8:27 AM EST
Dec 26 2010

... he wouldn't have photographed them under low-light conditions through the dirty lens of a low-resolution cellphone camera and then brutalize the result with various Photoshop-induced distortion effects in a vain attempt to simulate an impressionist style watercolor. Nope. He would have just painted the damned thing.

I call this, "What is this strange 'Poker' you wish us to play?"

(From the left: Lucy, Riley, Sassy and Misty.)


Categories: Dogs, Photo of the day


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Quote of the day
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Published Sunday, December 26, 2010 @ 1:02 AM EST
Dec 26 2010

Technically speaking, the only things necessary for the triumph of evil are evil and triumph.
-The Covert Comic


Categories: Covert Comic, Quotes of the day


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Political jokes of the week
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Published Saturday, December 25, 2010 @ 12:00 AM EST
Dec 25 2010

The week's best late-night political jokes, from Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog on About.Com.

President Obama signed into law the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' What does it say about us that we think gay men can handle armed combat, but can't handle marriage?
-Jay Leno

Congress has voted to extend the Bush tax cuts. Is it me, or is George W. Bush getting more done now than when he was in office?
-Jay Leno

Sarah Palin, part-time Governor of Alaska, is angry because Michele Obama is encouraging kids to eat healthy. Sarah Palin believes the government shouldn't tell us what to do. Sarah Palin believes she should tell us what to do.
-David Letterman

A new poll shows President Obama ahead of Sarah Palin 54 percent to 39 percent in a potential match up. You know what that means? John McCain could get Barack Obama elected twice.
-Jay Leno

The Senate voted to allow gay soldiers to serve in the military. This is good news for gay soldiers, but bad news for straight soldiers who were going to say they were gay to get out of the Army.
-Conan O'Brien

Congress repealed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. The Pentagon can now start production on 'Iraq the Musical.'
-David Letterman

This morning President Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell' into law. He would have signed it last night, but supporters of the bill didn't want to miss last night's episode of Glee.
-Conan O'Brien

John McCain was opposed to repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' though he admitted that he probably served with gay soldiers during the Civil War.
-David Letterman

Vice President Joe Biden said there has been no 'substantive damage' to the United States by Julian Assange in the whole WikiLeaks scandal. He says it has been embarrassing, but you can't prosecute people for embarrassing the United States. If that were true, Joe Biden would be serving life in prison.
-Jay Leno

Last night on Sarah Palin's Alaska, the Palins went white water rafting with a guide named Mudflap. It was such an odd name, Sarah Palin asked, "Are you sure you're not one of my kids?"
-Jimmy Fallon

Sarah Palin's Alaska has been such a big hit for TLC, they're trying to get her to do another season. You know who doesn't want Palin to have a second season? Elk.
-Jimmy Fallon

Sarah Palin is getting into the Christmas spirit. Today, she shot a partridge in a pear tree.
-David Letterman

This weekend there were big Christmas sales, Congress repealed 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' and the President signed the tax-cut extension bill. So if you're a gay soldier who's also a millionaire, looking for tax-refund money to go Christmas shopping, this was the time of your life.
-Jay Leno


Categories: Political Jokes of the Week


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Christmas 2010
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Published Friday, December 24, 2010 @ 7:58 AM EST
Dec 24 2010

Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.
-Eric Sevareid

Merry Christmas!
 
Kevin and Cindy
Deja
Lucy
Misty
Sassy
Riley
and
Pumpkin and Chloe
as "the cats"


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Remembering Victor
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Published Thursday, December 23, 2010 @ 7:20 AM EST
Dec 23 2010

Victor Borge (January 3, 1909 - December 23, 2000)


Categories: Music, Video, YouTube


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Quote of the day
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Published Thursday, December 23, 2010 @ 6:41 AM EST
Dec 23 2010

In Germany, an airport hired clowns to entertain grumpy passengers whose flights had been delayed. None of the clowns survived.
-Conan O'Brien


Categories: Quotes of the day


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How White Christmas and The Ten Commandments begat Star Wars
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Published Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @ 7:25 AM EST
Dec 22 2010

Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" was the first film shot in Paramount Pictures' proprietary VistaVision widescreen process. Twentieth Century Fox's previously introduced Cinemascope used anamorphic lenses to squeeze a wider image onto the film; the process was reversed during projection. When you see a film clip where everyone looks extremely tall and skinny, you're seeing a widescreen anamorphic print being projected in error by a normal lens.

The problem with all this image squeezing and unsqueezing was the effect on image quality. Distortion was introduced which couldn't be completely eliminated during projection. Color motion picture film in the 1950s was also rather grainy, and the fuzziness could be detected when the image was projected on the larger, wider screens.

Instead of using lenses to squeeze a wider image on the negative, VistaVision cameras moved the film horizontally past the lens, exposing the equivalent of two standard 35mm frames. This doubled the width of image without the introduction of anamorphic distortion and graininess. Think landscape vs portrait photo printing on your computer, and you'll get the idea.

Very few VistaVistion projectors were built, and they were used only at special previews and premieres. Since twice as much film was used to record the image, it had to move through the projector twice as fast, at a somewhat terrifying three feet per second. For regular exhibition at the local neighborhood movie house, the VistaVision negatives were printed down to standard vertical 35mm reels, while keeping the widescreen aspect ratio. A VistaVision print could be projected with a regular lens, which meant theater owners didn't have to buy special equipment or deal with switching lenses when the second movie on a double feature was shot in non-widescreen format.

Technology marched on; higher quality film stocks were created as well as better anamorphic lenses. VistaVistion's bulky cameras and high film costs doomed the format. After being used on about three dozen or so films, VistaVision disappeared for the most part in the early 1960s.

Jump cut to the mid-1970s. John Dykstra was looking for cheap motion picture cameras suitable for shooting special effects. Effects shots require multiple exposures and multiple printing steps, each resulting in increased film grain and loss of detail. The old VistaVision cameras, with double the negative size of a standard 35mm frame, were ideal-- and were dirt cheap, since no one had used them for 15 years. Even better, the lens mounts on the old cameras and printers could be modified to use readily available, high-quality Nikkor lenses from 35mm Nikon still cameras. (I vaguely recall an ad by Nikkor on the back cover of Popular Photography magazine boasting how their lenses made Star Wars possible, but the issue's long gone and I can't find the ad online anywhere.)

Dykstra bought the old equipment, added motion control hardware and software, and the VistaVision cameras that shot Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in White Christmas and Charleton Heston in The Ten Commandments (a 1956 Paramount release) became the Dykstraflex system that made Star Wars' groundbreaking effects possible. The old VistaVision equipment carried Industrial Light and Magic's multiple award-winning efforts until the replacement of optical-based special effects with computer generated imagery.


Categories: Star Wars


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The past and current kings
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Published Wednesday, December 22, 2010 @ 4:58 AM EST
Dec 22 2010

Dick Cavett visits Craig Ferguson, and both impress. Dick throws out an obscure reference to Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Craig gets it.


Categories: Craig Ferguson, Dick Cavett, Video, YouTube


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Goodbye, Steve
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Published Tuesday, December 21, 2010 @ 2:28 AM EST
Dec 21 2010

Steve Landesberg died yesterday of cancer. The comedian and actor, best known as the annoying, dead-pan intellectual Detective Sergeant Arthur P. Dietrich on the classic cop sitcom Barney Miller, was somewhere between the ages of 65 to 73; there's some dispute over his age, which he often refused to disclose.

All of the Barney Miller characters were superb, but I particularly liked Landesberg's Dietrich, a droll, human encyclopedia. The scope and depth of his knowledge of truly arcane subjects was a running joke that never got old. Like the time the cops dragged an atomic device constructed by a teenager into the station house. No one knew what it was; an expert was summoned and declared it to be a nuclear device. Everyone was stunned into silence, staring at the contraption. The door to the squad room opened, Dietrich sauntered in, walked over, took a look, and nonchalantly asked: "Huh. Where'd you get the atom bomb?"

Dietrich's character was mellow and his demeanor unassuming. He often lobbed hardballs, but he made certain they went right over the heads of his targets. Take the Arkansan arrested for solicitation:

Man: I know why you arrested me.
Dietrich: Why?
Man: It’s because I’m from Arkansas.
Dietrich: Nah, we haven’t enforced that in years.

Or this gem:

Man: We like the same things you like here: A good cut of meat, fresh lobster, a nice bottle of wine...
Dietrich: Red or white?
Man: It depends.
Dietrich: With possum?
Man: Red.
Dietrich: Thought so.

But, for what it's worth, Abe Vigoda is still alive.


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Assange vs Zuckerberg
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Published Monday, December 20, 2010 @ 10:42 AM EST
Dec 20 2010


Categories: SNL, Video


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The Elf from Hell
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Published Monday, December 20, 2010 @ 4:46 AM EST
Dec 20 2010

So we took Cindy's four-year-old granddaughter, Jasmine, to the Galleria in Mount Lebanon for pictures with Santa. We'd been there a few weeks ago and had been impressed not only by the quality of Mr. Claus' appearance and demeanor, but by the charm and enthusiasm of the young ladies taking the photographs.

It took a half hour to make it to the head of the line, and, as expected, Jasmine was a bit shy in the presence of the big guy. Santa spoke softly and warmly, and just as she was starting to warm up to him, we heard a young man pronounce "I got this one!" and stride across Santa's platform.

Now this was not your typical run of the mill elf. This was a loud, six-foot tall fella who sort of resembled a young Howie Mandel, sporting a bizarre mohawk-yarmulke haircut, a pony tail, and a goatee.

And, he was color-blind. "Want to sit on this prety blue present?" he asked. "It's purple," Cindy corrected. "Purple," Santa chimed in. "We're teaching her colors," Cindy explained. Somewhat tersely.

Jasmine sat on the box, and just as she started overcoming her fear and shyness, Numbnuts, the Elf from Hell, starts blowing a stupid toy horn and crooning loudly, "Jasmine! Come on! Smile!"

It was all downhill from there.

"Maybe next year will be better," Cindy said as she led the tearful Jasmine away, as Numbnuts cackled in the background.

Oh, it will.

Next year, that elf is going down.

Ho ho ho.


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Quote of the day
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Published Sunday, December 19, 2010 @ 11:28 PM EST
Dec 19 2010

"GOP Rep: I'll Hold Hearings On Radical Islam." Let's hope the entire GOP is present, and it involves cartoons.
-Elayne Boosler


Categories: Elayne Boosler, Quotes of the day


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Mr. Magoo's Chistmas Carol
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Published Sunday, December 19, 2010 @ 5:14 AM EST
Dec 19 2010

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, a musical adaptation of the Dickens story, was the first animated holiday special produced specifically for American network television. Commissioned and sponsored by Timex, it aired on NBC on December 18, 1962; two years before Rankin-Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and three years prior to the generally acknowledged masterpiece of the genre, the Emmy and Peabody award-winning A Charlie Brown Christmas.

While Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Frosty the Snowman (1969), and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) have aired annually since their debuts, Magoo exited network television in the 1980s, popped up in syndication for the next decade or so, then shuffled off to home video and the Internet.

While Magoo features the relatively cheap limited animation most television cartoons employ, it had something the others didn't- a score written by Broadway heavy hitters Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, whose next effort would be the hit show Funny Girl.

A remastered Blue-Ray DVD of the show was released this year, and the soundtrack and show itself are available on Amazon and iTunes (should the YouTube link above become unavailable).

For a lot of mid-50s boomers, Magoo was our introduction to Dickens' classic story. And, as the first real Christmas special, it left a major impression.

It's good to see it available again.


Categories: Classic, Mr. Magoo's Chistmas Carol, Music, Video


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Holiday Pi
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Published Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 7:27 AM EST
Dec 18 2010

Reader Pierce Brown passed this along for your mathematical enjoyment. The full-size original is here.

Do any of you native Pittsburgers remember the billboard from the 60s or 70s:

Tambellini's Pizza Πr2


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Quote of the day
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Published Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 7:01 AM EST
Dec 18 2010

[O]n some deeper level, science fiction writers truly are cultural allies of scientists. We have a whole lot of the same enemies, and anyone who wants to hurt them, wants to hurt us. Also, we both get all depressed when we see stupid people being happy.
-Bruce Sterling


Categories: Quotes of the day


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Political jokes of the week
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Published Saturday, December 18, 2010 @ 6:36 AM EST
Dec 18 2010

The week's best late-night political jokes, from Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog.

Ukraine announced plans to open Chernobyl, their nuclear disaster site, to tourists. They say it's just like Disneyland, except the six foot mouse is real.
-Conan O'Brien

Sarah Palin is going to Haiti this weekend to deliver humanitarian aid. If there's one thing that's reassuring, it's seeing Sarah Palin above you in a helicopter.
-Jimmy Fallon

Poor Haitians, they can't get a break. First the earthquake, then the hurricanes, and now Sarah Palin.
-David Letterman

Kate Gosselin was on the TLC show, 'Sarah Palin's Alaska,' and Palin told Kate that you're putting your family in danger if you don't bring a gun with you in the wilderness. Of course there's always the other option: not taking your kids into the wilderness.
-Jimmy Fallon

FedEx said that it shipped 16 million packages today on its busiest day of the year. That's right, they handled 16 million packages. Or as the TSA calls that, 'kind of a slow day.'
-Jimmy Fallon

George W. Bush's daughter, Jenna, just put her home in Baltimore on the market for $500,000. The real estate agent said, 'I just want to warn you that offers have gone way down ever since the economy was ruined by... someone.
-Jimmy Fallon

Michelle Obama said that obesity is a national security threat because one in four young people are too overweight to join the military. Couldn't we just have a separate fat army to fight in countries that don't have hills?
-Jimmy Kimmel

Mark Zuckerberg was named Time's Person of the Year. I'm sorry if you don't recognize the name. A magazine is something people used to read.
-Craig Ferguson

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year. They said he has single-handedly changed the way we waste time at work.
-Jay Leno

Time magazine is now ranking the best tweets of the year and, according to Time, the best tweet for 2010 was written by John McCain. Experts say it's even more impressive because McCain thought he was opening his garage door.
-Conan O'Brien

Larry King has been married more times than Henry the Eighth. We used to have that rhyme to keep track of them. 'Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.' With Larry I think it goes, 'Divorced, beheaded, divorced, escaped. Zombie, lesbian, disappeared, inflatable.'
-Craig Ferguson


Categories: Craig Ferguson, Political Jokes of the Week


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Colbert reclaims Christianity
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Published Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:12 PM EST
Dec 17 2010

Colbert masterfully exposes conservative intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy, and underscores the danger of angering a truly devout Sunday School teacher from New Jersey.

"Now what I like best about Bill [O'Reilly]'s argument is its complete factual inaccuracy. Because it would be inconvenient to guys like us to repeat what Jesus actually said. For instance, if someone wants your coat, give them your cloak as well. Rich people should sell all their possessions and give the money to the poor. Plus, the fact is, Jesus was way beyond self-destructive... he was self-sacrificial. I mean, the guy is God. He could have floated off that cross like Criss Angel Mindfreak. And I love, I love how Bill closes with "The Lord helps those who help themselves," kind of implying that Jesus said that, when it was actually Ben Franklin, who I believe belched out that proverb between mouthfuls of French whore."

"It's time to take baby Jesus out of the manger. Replace him with something that's easier to swallow. How about a honey-baked ham? Because if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition... and then admit that we just don't want to do it."


Categories: Colbert Report, Hypocrisy, Stephen Colbert, Video


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Worst Responders
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Published Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 7:10 AM EST
Dec 17 2010

Senate Republicans filibuster the Zadroga bill but pass tax cuts for the wealthy, which is great news for firefighters who make over $200,000 a year.

"Yet, there was one network that gave the 9/11 responders story the full 22 minutes of intense coverage that it deserved. But that network, unfortunately, was Aljazeera. Our networks were scooped with a sympathetic Zadroga bill story by the same network that Osama bin Laden sends his mixtapes to! This is insane!

911 first responders watch as Mitch McConnell cries over a friend's retirement, and Jon Kyl explains why the Senate can't work the week after Christmas.


Categories: Daily Show, Jon Stewart, Video


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The World News Now 2010 Christmas Polka
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Published Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 6:53 AM EST
Dec 17 2010


Categories: Music, Video, YouTube


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Poster of the day
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Published Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 6:48 AM EST
Dec 17 2010


Categories: Poster of the day


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TSA scanners foiled by... pancakes
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Published Friday, December 17, 2010 @ 12:20 AM EST
Dec 17 2010

"From now on, we can use strategically placed pancakes to cover our sausage and eggs."
-Stephen Colbert


Categories: Colbert Report, Video


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An iBand Christmas
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Published Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 5:16 AM EST
Dec 16 2010


Categories: Music, Video, YouTube


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Feline Navidad
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Published Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ 12:00 AM EST
Dec 16 2010


Categories: Cats, Video, YouTube


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Big Brother, where Art Thou?
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Published Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 6:33 AM EST
Dec 15 2010

"Letting corporations decide how much cadmium is okay? It's like putting out the whole bag of Purina and trusting your dog to stop when it's had enough. Oh, and the more the dog eats, the more it gets paid- and it gets paid in Purina."


Categories: Daily Show, Jon Stewart, Video


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Quote of the day
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Published Tuesday, December 14, 2010 @ 7:42 AM EST
Dec 14 2010

Are you out of your mind?
-mother of Mike Seidel, Weather Channel on-air meteorologist, on his outdoor-based coverage of a massive winter storm in Cleveland, Ohio.


Categories: Quotes of the day


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A brief musical interlude
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Published Monday, December 13, 2010 @ 12:46 AM EST
Dec 13 2010

What better way to start a snowy Monday morning than with a shaky Droid music video of some guy's daughter singing in church?

Eric Stark did the arrangement a couple years ago. My good friend Peter Stumpf is on piano, and the incredible Dave Haines is on guitar. That's my daughter Sara singing. Unfortunately, I forget the name of the guy whose bald spot dominates the shot.

Bonus video: Dave, Eric, Peter and the group do Carol of the Bells. Listen to Dave get down about 2:20 into the song.


Categories: KGB Family, Music, Video, YouTube


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The card that almost was...
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Published Sunday, December 12, 2010 @ 7:36 AM EST
Dec 12 2010

If I hadn't missed the print deadline, this would have been this year's Christmas card.

For our Christian friends, the inside would have read:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The alternate version would have read:

Squirrels!


Categories: Animals, KGB Family, Photo of the day


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Quote of the day
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Published Saturday, December 11, 2010 @ 12:03 AM EST
Dec 11 2010

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
-Mahatma Gandhi


Categories: Quotes of the day


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Political jokes of the week
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Published Friday, December 10, 2010 @ 12:28 PM EST
Dec 10 2010

The week's best late-night political jokes, from Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog.

It looks like the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich will continue, due to a strong Republican leader, Barack Obama. Today Obama changed his slogan from 'Yes we can' to 'Yes, we caved.' It's so bad for him, now Democrats want to see his birth certificate.
-Jay Leno

President Obama has agreed to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. Because if there's anything we need, it's an extension of the Bush era.
-David Letterman

Great. Let's extend the policies of the guy who gave us the greatest recession in the history of the planet.
-David Letterman

So it's Bush tax cuts for two more years, and then it'll be up to President Palin.
-David Letterman

Part-time Governor Sarah Palin shot and killed a reindeer on last week's TV show. And that was her Christmas special. Took her three shots. Well, she's rusty. Last thing she brought down was John McCain.
-David Letterman

Sarah Palin shot a reindeer on the last episode of her show. You don't typically see politicians shooting reindeer to death two weeks before Christmas.
-Jimmy Kimmel

Between the made-up words and wildly shooting at anything with four legs, Sarah Palin is turning into Elmer Fudd.
-Jimmy Kimmel

On Sarah Palin's next show she gets together with Kate Gosselin and her kids. This may be the biggest meeting of media whores since Michael and Dina Lohan got together to conceive Lindsay.
-Jimmy Kimmel

The WikiLeaks founder is being sought by Swedish authorities on charges of sexual assault. He says, if he's arrested, he'll release a poison pill of encoded documents, including ones about UFOs. Arrest him. I want to hear about the UFOs.
-Jimmy Kimmel

Julian Assange was arrested by British authorities. Our secrets are safe- as long as no one else figures out how to use the Internet.
-Jimmy Kimmel

President Obama's pledge to have the most transparent administration in history has come true. Thanks to WikiLeaks.
-Jay Leno

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' was just on. According to a recent poll, most Americans think Charlie Brown is a Muslim.
-David Letterman

Nigerian authorities are charging former Vice President Dick Cheney on a bribery scandal that involves Haliburton. That's when you know you're bad, when guys in Nigeria are accusing you of running a scam. Cheney has offered to be hooked up to a polygraph, as soon as he's unhooked from the defibrillator.
-Jay Leno

The season wouldn't feel the same without people going out of their way to be offended by nothing.
-Jon Stewart on the War on Christmas

Legislation was enacted in 1993 designed to allow gay people to serve in the military as long as they told their colleagues that the ripped, topless and be-jean shorted fireman that they had in their foot locker was cousin Rico.
-Jon Stewart on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Republicans might be willing to allow homosexual men and women to die for their country, once anyone earning over $500,000 a year is allowed to park in handicapped spaces and be addressed as 'Guvner' in an English accent.
-Daily Show correspondent John Oliver on Don't Ask Don't Tell


Categories: Daily Show, Jon Stewart, Political Jokes of the Week, Quotes of the day


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Paul McCartney and Jimmy Fallon sing the original lyrics to "Yesterday"
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Published Friday, December 10, 2010 @ 8:23 AM EST
Dec 10 2010

Scrambled Eggs
 
Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs
But not as much as I love scrambled eggs
Oh we should eat some scrambled eggs.
 
Waffle fries, oh my darling how I love your thighs
Not as much as I love waffle fries
Oh have you tried the waffle fries?
 
They are so damned good
That they should be illegal
They're like regular fries
But they're shaped like a waffle.
 
Chicken (tofu) wings, oh my baby when I hear you sing
All I think about is chicken wings,
Oh did you bring the chicken wings?
There's a place I know where I go for kick-ass wings
We could even get a side of onion rings
 
Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs
Not as much as I love scrambled eggs
Oh let's go get some scrambled eggs.


Categories: Music, Video


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Conundrum
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Published Thursday, December 09, 2010 @ 10:17 AM EST
Dec 09 2010

Santa Claus is going to make an unscheduled appearance at a local church function this week, and a member of the congregation asked me my opinion.

"I'm the wrong person to ask," I replied. "To me, it's sort of like asking what would happen if Spiderman showed up unannounced at Superman's Fortress of Solitude."

It's an interesting premise, but there are weightier philosphical matters to consider, such as the such as the origins of Christmas itself.

Whatever. In the words of Ogden Nash, "Merry Christmas, nearly everyone!"


Categories: Superman


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It was 30 years ago today...
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Published Wednesday, December 08, 2010 @ 7:08 AM EST
Dec 08 2010

John Lennon (October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980)


Categories: Music, Video, YouTube


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Happy birthday, Harry
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Published Tuesday, December 07, 2010 @ 8:24 AM EST
Dec 07 2010

"...but you can travel on ten thousand miles, and still stay where you are."
Harry Chapin (December 7, 1942 - July 16, 1981)


Categories: Music, Video, YouTube


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The inspiration for the development of the Steadicam
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Published Monday, December 06, 2010 @ 8:03 AM EST
Dec 06 2010


Categories: Animals, Video, WTF?, YouTube


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"The millionaires and billionaires in this country are doing just fine."
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Published Sunday, December 05, 2010 @ 9:00 AM EST
Dec 05 2010


Categories: Hypocrisy, Video, YouTube


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Quotes of the day
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Published Saturday, December 04, 2010 @ 7:44 AM EST
Dec 04 2010

Frank Zappa (December 21, 1940 - December 4, 1993)

The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own.

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.

A drug is neither moral or immoral- it's a chemical compound. The compound itself is not a menace to society until a human being treats it as if consumption bestowed a temporary license to act like an asshole.

Americans like to talk about (or be told about) Democracy but, when put to the test, usually find it to be an "inconvenience." We have opted instead for an authoritarian system disguised as a Democracy. We pay through the nose for an enormous joke-of-a-government, let it push us around, and then wonder how all those assholes got in there.

Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.

Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff.

High school isn't a time and a place. It's a state of mind.

I can't understand why anybody would want to devote their life to a cause like dope. It's the most boring pastime I can think of. It ranks a close second to television.

I wrote a song about dental floss but did anyone's teeth get cleaner?

If it wasn't for rap there would be no poetry in America. I think we went directly from Walt Whitman to Ice-T.

If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to a library.

If your children ever find out how lame you really are, they'll murder you in your sleep.

It's not a matter of being misunderstood. It's a matter of being uncomprehended.

Jazz is not dead... it just smells funny.

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.

Remember, there's a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.

Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.

Stupidity is replicating itself at an enormous rate. The person who stands up and says, "This is stupid," either is asked to "behave" or, worse, is greeted with a cheerful, "Yes, we know! Isn't it terrific!"

The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced.

There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

There will never be a nuclear war. There's too much real estate involved.

Without deviation, progress is not possible.

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.


Categories: Quotes of the day


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Quote of the day
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Published Friday, December 03, 2010 @ 11:19 AM EST
Dec 03 2010

Re: WikiLeaks- In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.
-Rep. Ron Paul, via Twitter
(Thanks to Danny Burstein)


Categories: Quotes of the day


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"You are an idiot. That was not a copy. It was... an homage."
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Published Thursday, December 02, 2010 @ 8:20 AM EST
Dec 02 2010

Remember the cheeky French bastard that ripped off the format of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson? Here's an update.


Categories: Craig Ferguson, Video, YouTube


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Anderson Cooper, on the cutting edge of journalism. In a bunny suit.
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Published Thursday, December 02, 2010 @ 12:13 AM EST
Dec 02 2010


Categories: Animals, Video


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"Intellect and romance triumph over brute force and cynicism"
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Published Wednesday, December 01, 2010 @ 11:27 PM EST
Dec 01 2010

TV's Craig Ferguson supplies expository lyrics to the Doctor Who theme, along with a Dalek, snappy choreography, puppets, and the good Doctor himself.

By the way, the clip's called "The lost Doctor Who cold open" because the segment never aired. Worldwide Pants couln't secure clearance for use of the theme song. Instead, the cold open was this:


Categories: Craig Ferguson, Video, YouTube


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The snow has arrived....
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Published Wednesday, December 01, 2010 @ 2:13 PM EST
Dec 01 2010

And Misty is dreaming of a white Christmas. Or probably enough snow to put down a couple Sheltie angels...


Categories: Animals, Dogs, KGB Family, Photo of the day


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