Monthly Archive: February 2008

Prince Harry in Afghanistan

Fascinating news about Prince Harry’s secret posting to the front lines in Afghanistan. The BBC has full coverage.

Julius Makes the Leap (Year)

Happy leap day! Wired magazine has a nifty piece on how Julius Caesar added the bonus day to February every four years.And how Pope Gregory XIII took back one leap day every hundred years or so.

Obituary First Lines: William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley died on Monday at age 82. Here’s how obituary writers are summing up his life:”William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right’s post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House…” -The Associated Press

Grunting News from Australia

“They told me to guarantee she won’t grunt or she can’t play.”The sad words of Duncan Edwards, father of nine-year-old Lauryn Edwards, who’s been banned from her local tennis club for grunting. Lauryn says she’s just emulating her favorite player, “notorious grunter” Maria Sharapova.

William F. Buckley Dies

Conservative commentator William F. Buckley has died at age 82. Reports The Washington Post: “His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook at his home in Stamford, Conn. The cause of death was unknown, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said.”

Mister Rogers +5

Fred Rogers, the star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, died five years ago today.He’d still be only 79 now. He was born the same year as poet Maya Angelou, artist Andy Warhol, and revolutionary Che Guevara.

Happy 8th Birthday, Ja Rule!

An exciting week for rapper Ja Rule. He’s a leap year baby, born 29 February 1976, so he’ll be celebrating his 8th natal day on Friday.He’s part of our fascinating quartet of February 29th babies — along with Shaker founder Mother Ann Lee, killer Aileen Wuornos (of Monster fame), and nutty prankster/painter Balthus.

‘Silent Clare’?

“Two years and 142 cases have passed since Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last spoke up at oral arguments,” reports the Associated Press (via CNN). “The last time Thomas asked a question in court was Feb. 22, 2006, in a death penalty case out of South Carolina.”

Nader is Running

Ralph Nader announced today that he is running for president as an independent in 2008.Nader collected nearly 2.9 million votes as a Green Party candidate in 2000, and those mostly-liberal votes are generally considered to have cost Democrat Al Gore the election.Perhaps Democrats can take heart in 2008: Nader ran again in 2004 and collected only 465,000 votes.

Oscar Nominees 2008

The 2008 Academy Awards are set for tonight at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, and 3:00 Honolulu time.They’re called the 2008 Oscars although the films involved are, of course, from 2007. This is easy to understand now, but will cause confusion and mild irritation in years to come when biographers explain that actor X won a 2008 Oscar for film Y, then have to clarify that film Y was released in 2007.(Yes, it’s a pet peeve.)Here are the nominees for the acting Oscars:

‘Fish’ Still Afloat

Rumors of his death continue to be exaggerated. Abe Vigoda, star of Barney Miller and Fish, turns 87 this weekend.

Name That Washington

A quiz for George Washington’s birthday: Which president had a gloomy, ne’er-do-well son named for Washington?Here’s the answer. And here’s the son.

Twins for J-Lo

Singer Jennifer Lopez has given birth to twins.According to People, “The babies were born early Friday [22 February] in Long Island, N.Y. The girl was born at 12:12 a.m. and weighed 5 lbs. 7 oz., and the boy followed at 12:23 a.m., weighing 6 lbs.”Lopez and her husband, Marc Anthony, have been married since 2004.

Generation Gap

Singer Rihanna, of “Umbrella” and “Pon de Replay” fame, leaves her teens today. She’s 20.Guitarist Tony Iommi, of Black Sabbath (and missing fingers) fame, turned 60 yesterday.Happy birthday, kids!

How Old is Fidel Castro Really?

Fidel Castro, like America’s own founding father Alexander Hamilton, has always been coy about his age.The official line from the Cuban government is clear: Castro was born on 13 August 1926.

Fidel Castro Resigns

“I will not aspire to nor accept — I repeat — I will not aspire to nor accept the post of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief.”Those are words of Fidel Castro in a letter released Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

Molly’s Dad

A side note on actress Molly Ringwald: Turns out her dad is a ragtime pianist with a rather witty home page at”Throughout Ringwald’s musical career, he has always subscribed to the motto: If my music does not come up to your standards, lower your standards.”

Molly Ringwald, Age-Appropriate Actress

Actress Molly Ringwald turns 40 today.Ringwald was born in 1968, so she really was 16 when she starred in her 1984 hit Sixteen Candles. That’s a rarity for Hollywood, which tends to cast older actors as its high-schoolers. (Most recently: Ellen Page doing a swell job playing 16 in Juno. Page turns 21 in three days.)

Munch on ‘The Wire’

Which TV detective has appeared on eight different series in the last decade?

Obituary First Lines: Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett was declared dead on Friday by Cook County (Illinois) Judge Jeffrey Malak. That allows Fossett’s widow, Peggy, to begin dealing with his estate.It also allows newspapers to print obituaries they’ve been holding since September. Here’s how Fossett is being described:

Fossett: Legally Dead

A Chicago probate court judge has declared adventurer Steve Fossett to be legally dead.Fossett disappeared in Nevada in September on what was supposed to be a brief flight in a single-engine plane. He and the plane have not been seen since.

Abraham Lincoln Topless!

The National Archives has uncovered a rare and rather shocking photo of Abraham Lincoln topless.The photo can be found here. (May not be suitable for all viewers.)The Archives also has a larger history of the photo. Happy Presidents’ Day!

Jimmy Hoffa +95?

Jimmy Hoffa may be 95 years old today.

Clemens Talks to Congress

Pitcher Roger Clemens, accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, testifies before Congress today.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 2008

Marisa Miller is the cover girl for the magazine’s latest swimsuit issue.The issue also includes shots of Indy car driver Danica Patrick.For more on Miller (and previous cover girls), see our feature on The Models of Sports Illustrated.

Obama on a Tear

Whew: Barack Obama with 59% in Maryland, 75% in DC, and 64% in Virginia. Ongoing primary results from The Boston Globe and The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Was Saint Valentine Real?

A question we often get at this time of year: “Was Saint Valentine a real person?”The short answer: We don’t know, and nobody really does. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia says there were at least three different St. Valentines associated with February 14th.

Palin, Richards and Bhutto

August 20: Eric tells me about his summer with the Rolling Stones, or Ronnie Wood, mainly. He likes Ronnie — he’s good company and a laugh — but is more guarded about Jagger (very sharp business mind) and Keith (pleasant, but so doped-up Eric reckons he has only a year to live).A choice 1976 entry from Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969-1979, published in 2006.

Obituary First Lines: Roy Scheider

A smattering of obituary openings for actor Roy Scheider, who has died at age 75:- “Thanks to Roy Scheider, it was okay for the good people of Amity Island to go back in the water again.” -E! Online

Granny Rocks Grammys

Why is Tina Turner at the top of the Who Popular? list today?The 68-year-old “sizzled” while performing with Beyoncé at the Grammy Awards last night. According to Reuters, “By the end, Beyoncé looked exhausted, but Turner seemed ready for more.”

Roy Scheider, Star of Jaws and Jazz

Actor Roy Scheider, star of the movies Jaws and All That Jazz, has died at age 75. The New York Post quotes his wife, Brenda, as saying Scheider died “of a staph infection, brought on by complications of the multiple myeloma with which he was diagnosed in 2004.”

Delegate Counts

We’ve been looking for a simple, up-to-date display of GOP and Democratic delegate counts. Turns out that Yahoo News has one: the Election 08 Political Dashboard.Click the “States” tab in the upper right to see a state-by-state breakdown.For those curious about so-called superdelegates, The Nation recently tried to explain the whole deal.

Gary Coleman is 40

Actor Gary Coleman turns 40 today.Should we say “only” 40? Seems like he’s been around a lot longer than that. (Turns out he’s the same age as another great pop culture figure, Dr. Cornelius.)Speaking of sci-fi, Jules Verne today turns 180.

Scotland Yard: Explosion Killed Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was killed by a bomb, not by gunfire. That’s the conclusion of Scotland Yard, which has been investigating her assassination. Detectives decided that a gunman fired a shot and hen detonated a bomb, which killed Bhutto when the blast thrust her head against the roof hatch of her car.

Romney Drops Out

“I must now stand aside, for our party and our country.”Mitt Romney is out of the presidential race.

A Senator in the White House?

The New York Times points out today that a sitting U.S. senator has not been elected president since 1960. This could be the year! John McCain (Arizona), Barack Obama (Illinois) and Hillary Clinton (New York) all seem to have a healthy shot.

Heath Ledger Autopsy Report

Actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, according to a report by the New York medical examiner’s office. The Associated Press quotes the examiner’s office as saying Ledger died of “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.”

Romney Stuck at Seven

Shades of Tom Brady: Mitt Romney looked exceedingly clumsy as he lost Super Tuesday to John McCain, 9-7.

Brady Stuck at Three

Tom Brady looked exceedingly clumsy as the New England Patriots lost Super Bowl 42 to the New York Giants, 17-14.

Wedding #3 for ‘President Bling Bling’

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has married the model and singer Carla Bruni in Paris, report the BBC and the IHT.It’s Sarkozy’s third marriage. He and his second wife, Cecilia, were divorced last October, and he reportedly met Bruni shortly afterwards. He’s been president only since May, and already he’s been divorced, courted a new woman, and remarried.

Groundhog Mania 2008

Six more weeks of winter, says Punxsutawney Phil. Dude saw his shadow.We’ve learned to trust Phil. He is, after all, over 100 years old.Punxsutawney loves that groundhog. Even the local paper, The Punxsutawney Spirit, has a (Pilgrim?) groundhog in its logo.

Weekend Reverie

Some truly inventive fun with album covers.(Props to Mr. Hehn for the link.)