December 30, 2020


Happy Wednesday! Technically today is National Resolution Planning Day, but good grief, does that sound dreary and wholly unappealing. To that end, let's all pretend it doesn't exist, shall we?


Yay, consensus!

We have several notable birthdays to celebrate today, and one notorious death day, so let's get to it!

• First up, happy birthday to journalist, poet, short story writer, and novelist Joseph Rudyard Kipling, born this day in 1865! Mr. Kipling's most well-known work is 1894's The Jungle Book, which has been adapted several times in both animated and live action forms, but he was a well-regarded writer throughout his life and remains to date the youngest-ever English-language winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which he won at the age of 41.

• Next, give a hot lick (of frosting) to influential guitarist, singer, and songwriter Ellas "Bo Diddley" McDaniel, born this day in 1928! Mr. Diddley played a crucial role in the transition from blues to rock and roll and was a major influence on many artists, from Elvis Presley & Buddy Holly to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Clash. A hallmark of his performances — including as the opening act on The Clash's 1979 US tour — was the presence of his signature rectangular guitar. Fun fact: He played the role of a Philadelphia pawn shop owner in the 1983 comedy Trading Places.

• Moving along, a very sketch-y birthday to comedian, singer, and actress Tracey Ullman, born this day in 1959! Ms. Ullman got her start in British sketch comedy shows in the early 1980s, but gained fame in the US as the centerpiece of FOX's The Tracey Ullman Show from 1987-1990 (which happened to be America's first introduction to The Simpsons, who were featured in Matt Groening's animated shorts between Tracey's live action sketches). My favorite Tracey Ullman role, though, is that of Sylvia Stickles in John Waters' classic A Dirty Shame

• On the sporting side of things, let's give four cakes to basketball icon LeBron Raymone James, Sr., born this day in 1984! Mr. James is a 4-time NBA champion, 4-time NBA MVP, and 16-time NBA All-Star, but more than that he's a vocal civil rights activist and has a pretty solid sense of comedic timing, as evidenced by his post-game interviews and his meta-role as himself in 2015 Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck.

• Finally, a very bizarre death day for Russian royal advisor Grigori Rasputin, who "died" on this day in 1916! I put "died" in quotes because really Mr. Rasputin was done in by a veritable smorgasbord of murder at the hands of Russian political conservatives who reportedly poisoned, shot, and then drowned the notorious Siberian mystic in an effort to halt his increasing influence over Empress Alexandra and the royal family. (Coincidentally in Russian history, it was on this day eight years later in 1922 that Lenin proclaimed the establishment of the USSR.)

OK,'ve waited long enough. It's link time!

1. Dj Earworm creates an epic music mix travelogue of major songs from 1970-2020, and it's very well-done.

Could you quibble with the selections for various years? Sure, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more seamless selection than this.

2. Meteoroligist Derek Kevra of Detroit FOX affiliate on channel 2 has had it up to here with foolish winter drivers.

This is one of the funniest things I've seen all week! I just love that the producers at FOX2 Detroit okayed this segment, and I applaud Mr. Kevra for keeping his language clean throughout given how his very real and visceral disdain for stupidity while driving in wintry conditions is juuuuusssstt simmering beneath his humorous veneer. This kid has a future as a comedian, a serial killer, or both.

3. Finally! someone is asking the hard hitting questions like, "why does my homemade burrito suck so much?

Internet Shaquille is REALLY into burritos. I thought I loved burritos, but now I know that I only "love" burritos. Internet Shaquille LOVES burritos, no quotes, full stop. Internet Shaquille thinks about burritos the way I imagine helicopter parents think about how they can improve their kid's chances of getting accepted early at an Ivy League school.

Also, "Internet Shaquille" is an amazing handle. No one is coming to "Internet Matt" for his thoughts on burritos, but that Internet Shaquille guy...he sounds like he might know some sh!t.

4. Ever wondered why Chinese food and Judaism go together like baiju & kosher wine (latkes & wontons)? 

Some NYC women in the know educate us about the cultural connection between Jewish New Yorkers and their neighborhood Chinese restaurants over the last century.

5. Finally, one from the vault: our handy list of New Year's traditions from around the world to bring good luck and fortune!

Maybe more of us need to eat black-eyed peas this year. This year could have been so much different had we all just munched more of these legumes!