Monthly Archive: January 2011

Happy Anniversary, Ham the Chimp!

On this day 50 years ago, Ham the Chimp blasted off in a Mercury rocket and flew 157 miles in space, just to see if it would be safe to send less hairy apes into orbit.
It was, pretty much.
LIFE magazine has a feature today where you can see rare photos of Ham the Chimp, called “In Praise of Ham the Chimp.”
Go see them.

David Axelrod Reflects

For political wonks (and Chicagoans) only: David Axelrod talks about Obama’s first two years.

The Challenger Commission and the 25th Anniversary

Today is the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger exploding after takeoff and killing all seven astronauts on board.
The most famous crew member at the time was probably Christa McAuliffe. She was a high school teacher from New Hampshire, the first of what was called the Teacher in Space Program from NASA.
Also on board: Commander Francis R. Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka and Ronald E. McNair, and Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis.

Clint Eastwood In Your Kitchen

Here’s what it’s like when a Hollywood icon shoots a 20-second bit outside your front door. Best line:

Happy 130th Deathday, Fedor Dostoevsky

Fedor Dostoevsky, author of Crime and Punishment — and the beloved Russian author not played by Christopher Plummer — died on this day in 1881.  Speaking of crime and punishment: Dostoevsky beat Billy the Kid to the grave by just six months. 

Sarah Palin Uses Naughty Internet Slang

Over at Media Matters, they’re featuring a video clip from Fox News — in which former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin uses naughty internet slang — on national tee-vee! — to harp on President Barack Obama’s recent State of the Union address (hint: it’s not SOTU).

Reading the Tea Leaves on Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela is in the hospital, and South Africa is worried. Mandela was airlifted from Capetown to Milpark Hospital in Johannesberg on Wednesday and was seen by pulmonologist Michael Plit. The doctor told reporters that Nelson Mandela “has been admitted for investigation.” 

Donald Sutherland Still Looks Supercool

Donald Sutherland poses on Hollywood Boulevard after receiving his star on the Walk of Fame.  Not many can pull off the pinstriped-suit-with-Santa-Claus-beard look.

Nabokov Was Right About the Butterflies

Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita and butterfly visionary:In a speculative moment in 1945, he came up with a sweeping
hypothesis for the evolution of the butterflies he studied, a group
known as the Polyommatus blues. He envisioned them coming to the New
World from Asia over millions of years in a series of waves.

Coens vs. Clint: Multi-Oscar Showdown!

“Fill your hands with Oscar nominations, you #[email protected]%!!”The Coen Brothers are thrice-nominated for True Grit in the Academy Awards this year: for best picture, director, and adapted screenplay. 

Jesse Eisenberg Biography, and His Sister the Pepsi Girl

Oscar-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg now has a brief biography at Who2. Eisenberg starred in the David Fincher movie The Social Network.Jesse Eisenberg plays Facebook fella Mark Zuckerberg. Eisenberg and Zuckerberg are not related. Their last names aren’t even the same. It just seems that way. In German, Eisenberg means “Iron Mountain,” but Zuckerberg means “Sugar Mountain.” Go look it up (I won’t).

Steve Prefontaine Would Be Only 60 Today

Wow: Oregon running legend Steve Prefontaine would be turning only 60 years old today.  He was born on this day in 1951 and died in a car crash after a race at age 24.

Oscar Nominations 2011: The Biggies

Somewhere, King George VI is smiling.Oscar nominations for 2011 were released this morning, and The King’s Speech led the way with 12 overall nominations.

Jack LaLanne Wore Ballet Slippers

Yes those are ballet slippers you see on muscleman Jack LaLanne in the great old clips of his workout shows.His official blog addressed the topic in November:

From Hayley Mills to Hailee Steinfeld: Oscar Can’t Resist Young Women

Hailee Steinfeld, age 14, will be nominated for an Oscar tomorrow for True Grit, because she deserves it and because the Academy loves to nominate plucky youngsters.Yes, the Academy loves plucky. But it loves plucky young women just a little more than plucky young men.

Jack LaLanne Has Died at the Age of 96

Television pioneer and fitness preacher Jack LaLanne passed away Sunday in California. He was 96 years old.
Jack LaLanne was a fixture on morning TV for decades, doing push-ups and squat thrusts and telling viewers to eat right!, with a peppy, you-can-do-it delivery. His official site features several videos of classic episodes of The Jack LaLanne Show.
Or, you can have a little sample here:

Eric Schmidt’s Top 10 Quotes

The Wall Street Journal has ’em.  Number 10, when asked last year if a Google brain implant was being developed:

Mafia Nicknames from the New York Bust

Here’s a fun list from the Village Voice, The 20 Best Nicknames in the Big Mafia Bust.

It includes gems such as:

Anthony “Baby Fat Larry” Durso
Vincent “Vinny Carwash” Frogiero
Anthony “Tony Bagels” Cavezza
John “Lumpy” Hartmann
Anthony “Firehawk” Licata
Joseph “Junior Lollipops” Carna

John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration: The Beaver Hat!

This is the beaver-and-silk hat worn by John F. Kennedy at his inauguration as U.S. president on this day 50 years ago.The John F. Kennedy Library describes the top hat this way:

Is the Poe Toaster Toast?

Edgar Allan Poe’s secret admirer failed to show up for the second year in a row. Four imposters gave it a shot, though.

More Nim Chimpsky: Who2 Nim Comics!

Like Nim Chimpsky, I was raised almost like a human in the 1970s. I feel a certain kinship with Nim. I’m not even jealous that he’s the star of Jim Marsh’s new documentary, Project Nim.
I wrote about Nim earlier in this post about Marsh’s film.
Inspired by Nim’s story of being raised as an un-chimped people during the 1970s, I scrawled out this artist’s rendering of what his life might have been like:

Nim Chimpsky and Project Nim

Remember that famous chimp from the 1970s, Nim Chimpsky?
Jim Marsh, the documentary maker (and Oscar winner) who did 2008’s Man on Wire is screening his film about Nim Chimpsky at the Sundance Film Festival this month.
Jim Marsh’s film is titled Project Nim.

Who2’s Betty White Biography, with Photos and Comics

We have a new Betty White biography on Who2, with photos.
The other day I bought a comic book, another in the Blue Water Comics series Female Force.
Blue Water has an extensive series of these bio-comics (biographix?), and I’ve already read one on First Lady Michelle Obama and one on the former Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin.
This time I decided to go out of my “safe zone” and get one that isn’t political.


What will Joe Lieberman do at his press conference tomorrow?  Retire? Declare that he’s running in 2012 as a Democrat?  As a Republican?The Fix speculates.

President Lyndon B. Johnson Orders Some Slacks

Anyone with an interest in the United States presidency should delight in this brief telephone conversation between clothier Joe Haggar and President Lyndon B. Johnson in August of 1964.
LBJ is on the hunt for some lightweight slacks, so he calls up Haggar to order some. He needs them about half an inch bigger in the waist than what he had before, and President Johnson goes into some detail about what he needs.

Did Kwilliam Snub Marack?

A new email rumor has Prince William and Kate Middleton snubbing President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle with a pointed non-invitation to their royal wedding in April.

Gabrielle Giffords Surgery Update

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had eye socket surgery today, and it wasn’t too simple:The operation involved opening a window in Giffords’ skull through an
incision over her eyebrow, removing the rim of her eye socket, removing
the bone fragments and then reconstructing the socket with the help of
metal mesh, doctors said. She will need another skull repair surgery,
but that will be done later.

Steve Jobs’s Health: A Chronology

Steve Jobs has announced that he will take a fresh medical leave from Apple, Inc.  He didn’t offer details.  Steve Jobs also took medical leave in 2009, when he had a liver transplant. Here’s a helpful chronology of his health problems from the LA Times.This was his note to employees today:Team,

Miss America 2011 Biography (with Photos)

Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan, exults as she receives her crown in Las Vegas on Saturday night, 15 January.  She’s only 17 years old.

Stocking Up on Penguins for Christmas 2011

Our own Mr. Duffy recommends the Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection. 1,082 titles, “all great works of literature totaling nearly half a million pages,” from Shakespeare to the great Somerset Maugham.No, they’re not digitized: it’s actual paper copies, shipped on your very own 750-pound pallet.Per Kottke:

Charles Nelson Reilly Isn’t Quite 80

Charles Nelson Reilly would have turned 80 today, had he not died in a few years back, alas.  He was born on this day in 1931.

Barack Obama’s Tucson Speech – Transcript

President Barack Obama spoke in Tucson yesterday after the shooting that killed six people and wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.  Here is the transcript of President Obama’s speech, given at McKale …..

Rush Limbaugh Needs Your Attention

Radio personality Rush Limbaugh turns 60 years old today.
Happy birthday, Rush!
We’ll say it again: Happy birthday, Rush!
We’re saying it twice because Rush Limbaugh needs the attention. Here’s how we know — he quotes himself:

“Over the weekend, Sarah Palin was responsible for the shooting. Now it’s me.” Really?

Fred Phelps, the Westboro Baptist Church and Tucson

As if crazy religious zealots don’t have a bad enough reputation…
Along comes Westboro Baptist Church patriarch-coot Fred Phelps, Sr., who has jumped into the middle of the Tucson, Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a lunatic spree that left six people dead.

Gabrielle Giffords: How She Survived a Shot to the Head

The chance of survival for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Saturday’s
shooting increased significantly because of one factor: The single
bullet that struck her traveled in and out of her head.

Gabrielle Giffords Biography (with Photos)

Gabrielle Giffords is the Arizona Congresswoman who was shot by a 22-year-old man at a meet-and-greet in Tucson today.  We’ve just posted a new biography of Gabrielle Giffords, with information taken from her Congressional biography, her official site, news updates, and past reports.

Warren Buffett, Bridge Fanatic

Whenever I do something extremely dumb, we usually get a good
result… That’s the
only thing she would find extremely irritating about me, is when I make
some colossal mistake and it turns out to give us a good score.Warren Buffett on his platonic bridge partner, Sharon Osberg.

Roger Ebert, Looking Sharp in Chicago

Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz Ebert attended the world premiere of the movie The Dilemma in Chicago last night. Dig the scarves. 

It’s Bigfoot Bicentennial Day!

Happy 200th birthday to you, Bigfoot, you hairy, reclusive, and almost certainly non-existent creature!Call it the Bicentennial of Baloney if you will, but today is the 200th anniversary of the first modern-day sighting of Bigfoot in the Americas.

The Homeless Man With the Golden Voice Has a Job

Ted Williams, the “golden-voiced” homeless man featured in 2011’s first viral video, has apparently been offered full-time announcing work by the Cleveland Cavaliers.To take the story back one notch: Williams was panhandling in Columbus, Ohio last month when a Columbus Dispatch reporter took this video:

Christopher Hitchens Wants a Good Cup of Tea

Last week Slate presented a nice little article from the clever and snotty pen of Christopher Hitchens — surprise!
No, wait! This time Hitchens isn’t grousing merrily about knuckleheads in politics or the philosophical abuses of religion — he’s grousing merrily about How to Make a Decent Cup of Tea.

Zsa Zsa Gabor Still Has Her Leg

As of this moment:”Zsa Zsa Gabor is still being treated with powerful
antibiotics at an L.A. hospital as doctors try to avoid amputating part
of her infected right leg to prevent the spread of gangrene.’

Robert Duvall is 80 Years Old

Robert Duvall turns 80 years old today. Happy birthday, old man! You’re the greatest. 

Gerry Rafferty, Dead at 63

Scottish singer and songwriter Gerry Rafferty died in England today at the age of 63.
Reports say he’d had various liver and kidney problems that caught up to him.
Rafferty is known in the U.S. for two songs in particular: 1972’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” (by the band Stealers Wheel) and 1978’s “Baker Street,” one of the few rock songs with a saxophone that doesn’t absolutely suck.
“Stuck in the Middle With You” gained new fame after Quentin Tarantino smoothed our ears with it in 1992’s Reservoir Dogs.

The Certainty of Antonin Scalia

In this brief interview with California Lawyer Magazine, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia displays his trademark certainty — he knows everything and everything he thinks is right. Didn’t you know that?

Erwin Schrodinger +50 Years

Happy 50th deathday to you, genius physicist Erwin Schrödinger.  You died on this day in 1961.

Mila Kunis Joins Famous Cartoon Voices

Actress Mila Kunis is now gracing movie screens everywhere as Natalie Portman’s rival-slash-costar in the dance-horror-dance movie Black Swan.She’s come a long way from playing Jackie in That 70s Show. And good for her. Because she must be a trooper to have voiced the character of Meg Griffin in Seth MacFarlane’s comedy cartoon Family Guy.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Biography

Who2 now has a profile of the Japanese-Engish novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

He’s the guy who wrote The Remains of the Day, one of the most heart-breaking books I’ve ever read. It’s good. I’ve never seen the movie all the way through, however, because I’m not one for those kinds of movies, the ones about stuffy English manners and unrequited love.

I can thoroughly enjoy books like that, but when it comes to movies, I have an automatic Homer Simpson reaction: BOR-RING!!

Tom Brady May Talk To You While Passing

“He can be talking throughout a play, the play can be actually running and he could be talking to you. He is on top of it. I remember a play we had and he was talking to me during the play and he had the ball in his hands, he was about to throw and he was talking to me about something that was going on.””…Sometimes a play might be designed for me to stay and block but he might tell me to ‘go ahead on and go,’ so, I go [out for a pass].”

Pete Postlethwaite, Nice Guy

“Pete taught for a brief period at my (convent!) school in Manchester. He
was quite uncomfortable at times to be surrounded by hormonal teenage
girls, but we all adored him! We all wrote ‘I love Pete Pos’ on our
white gym shoes.”The BBC has posted fans’ warm reminiscences of actor Peter Postlethwaite, who has died of testicular cancer at age 64.

The Big Big Birthdays of 2011

Happy New Year from Who2! And an early ‘happy birthday’ to these famous people who celebrate landmark birthdays in 2011.300 YearsPhilosopher DAVID HUME was born on April 26th, 1711.  He wrangled with Rousseau and argued that experience and observation must be the foundation of human knowledge.  200 Years