The Friday Irregular
Volume 9, Number 3 (TFIr #210)  --  16th January 2004

Edited by and copyright ©2004 Simon Lamont

tfir@simonlamont.co.uk


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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Friday 16 January -  Tyre manufacturer Andre Michelin born, 1853. Composer Leo Delibes died, 1901. Singer Ethel Merman born, 1909. Start of prohibition in the US, 1920. Physicist Robert Van de Graaf died, 1967. Happy birthday to: model Kate Moss (30), singer Sade (45), actress Caroline Munro (54), director John Carpenter & snooker player Cliff Thorburn (both 56).
 
Saturday 17 January -  Benjamin Franklin born, 1706. Thomas Crapper patented his improved flush toilet, 1861. Radio comedian Tommy Handley born, 1892. The Kingdom of Hawaii became a republic, 1893. Novelist T.H. White died, 1964. Happy birthday to: actor Jim Carrey (42), TV presenter Keith Chegwin (47), singer Paul Young (48), actress Sharon Duce (54), boxer Muhammad Ali (62). Today is: Constitution Day in the Philippines. Liberation Day in Poland.
 
Sunday 18 January -  Boston pilgrims saw a UFO, 1644. Peter Roget, inventor of the Thesaurus, slide rule & pocket chess set born, 1779. Writer A.A. Milne born, 1882. Captain Robert Scott arrived at the South Pole, 1912. Start of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. Happy birthday to: soccer player Peter Beardsley (43), actor Kevin Costner (49), illustrator Raymond Briggs (70), botanist Dr David Bellamy & director John Boorman (both 71). Today is: Pooh Day. Last day of the London International Boat Show.
 
Monday 19 January -  James Watt, steam pioneer, born, 1736. Confederate general Robert E. Lee born, 1807. Writer Edgar Allen Poe born, 1809. Artist Paul Cézanne born, 1839. The game of Scrabble was launched, 1955. Happy birthday to: actor Shawn Wayans (33), composer Simon Rattle (49), singer Dolly Parton (58), actor Michael Crawford (62), actress Tippi Hedren (73). Today is: Martin Luther King Day in the USA. Lee-Jackson Day in Virginia. Robert E. Lee's Birthday in Alabama & Mississippi. Confederate Heroes Day in Texas. Start of the Australian Open tennis competition.
 
Tuesday 20 January -  First English Parliament called into session, 1265. Patent for the rollercoaster granted to L.A. Thompson, 1885. First official basketball game played, at the Y.M.C.A. in Springfield, MA.,1892. Elvis Presley received his military draft notice, 1958. Actress Audrey Hepburn died, 1993. Happy birthday to: actor Skeet Ulrich (35), musician Paul Stanley (52), director David Lynch (59), astronaut Buzz Aldrin (75), actress Patricia Neal (78). Today is: St Sebastian Day (founding of Rio de Janeiro) in Brazil. Inauguration Day in the USA. St Agnes Eve. Last day of Capricorn.
 
Wednesday 21 January -  Louis XVI of France (r.1774-93) executed, 1793. Lenin died, 1924. Comedian Benny Hill born, 1925. Writer George Orwell died, 1950. Concorde made its inaugural flight, to Bahrain, 1976. Happy birthday to: actress Geena Davis (48), musician Billy Ocean (54), tenor Placido Domingo & golfer Jack Nicklaus (both 64), actor Paul Scofield (82). Today is: Nuestra Señora de Altagracia Day in the Dominican Republic. First day of Aquarius. New Moon.
 
Thursday 22 January -  Spain ceded the Falkland Islands to Britain, 1771. Zulu forces massacred the British at the Battle of Isandhlwana, 1879. Artist Walter Sickert died, 1942. Apple introduced the Macintosh, 1984. NASA made the last successful contact with Pioneer 10, 2003. Happy birthday to: actor Balthazar Getty (29), actresses Abi Tucker (31) & Linda Blair (45), boxer George Foreman (56), actor John Hurt (63). Today is: Chinese New Year (start of the Year of the Monkey) Anniversary Day in New Zealand. Discovery Day in St Vincent.

THE WISDOM OF...

This week, George Bernard Shaw:
There is no sincerer love than the love of food.

TOTALLY TRIVIAL...

The duffle bag is so-called because the thick wool it was originally made from came from the Belgian town of Duffle.


FILM QUIZ

A mixed bag of quotations this week. Answers next week or from the regular address.

Last issue's lines were:


WEIRD WORLD NEWS

Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...

DUMB CRIMS... When 18-year-old Sasa Jeremic decided to begin a career as a burglar by breaking into the exclusive Putnik restaurant in Pozarevac, Serbia, he was so pleased to have found a laptop PC and money that he decided to celebrate - by heating food from the fridge and downing expensive wine and cognac. After several glasses he fell asleep, and was found by staff the next morning who called the police. It's one thing to be a crim who is just dumb, but there is also a rare breed who commit crimes and then turn themselves in, like the 33-year-old Liverpudlian, believed to have been living in Germany for some time, who knocked on a police car window and asked if they were looking for a bank robber before confessing to having robbed four banks, taking around 4000 euros (UKP2,800) in total. His reason for giving himself up? He was tired of being on the run. This week's Dumb Crim of the Week though is a 55-year-old man from Toledo, Oregon, who was stopped for bad driving, found to be wearing women's clothes, high-heeled shoes and a wig, and then led police on a slow-speed road chase for over an hour at a speed well below the limit, until finally finding himself heading straight towards the central police station just as a shift was changing. Still not grasping the concept of the accelerator he found his car surrounded by officers, and was going slowly enough for them to be able to break the windows, unlock the doors of his car and arrest him. Other dumb crims this week include: the drug smuggler who was stopped at a Berlin airport for possession of two grams of marijuana, and while in custody passed most of the kilogram of cocaine he had stuffed into condoms and swallowed, but rather than just flush them away tried to hide them in his clothes; the two Chinese thieves who stole digital cameras and were caught by police trying to sell them - they had been so excited to have taken the cameras that they had photographed each other, but did not know how to delete the photos, and the Danish car thieves who called the police when they realised the owner of the car they had just taken was in hot pursuit in another vehicle.

WELL, WOULD YOU ARGUE WITH THESE GUYS? Crime levels in Edogawa Ward, Eastern Tokyo, look set to drop after the introduction of a neighbourhood watch scheme by fifteen professional Sumo wrestlers from the local Isenoumi stable. The famously heavyweight wrestlers patrol the streets at night in pairs or groups of three, with whistles and torches to alert residents to any prowlers.

WOULD YOU LIKE NO FRIES WITH THAT? Police in Troy, Michigan, are looking for teenage pranksters who have hacked into a Burger King drive-through's wireless order speaker system to tell customers that they are too fat for a burger, or that there isn't any food in the restaurant. One customer who had just ordered a couple of burgers was told "You don't need a couple of Whoppers. You are too fat. Pull ahead." Police believe the culprits are watching and broadcasting from nearby, while the Burger King management is trying to change the frequency the system works at.

SPORTS ROUND-UP... Frome Town Football Club in Somerset, England, have hired a white witch to lift a curse from their pitch and bless their players after struggling to score home goals.

ANIMAL ROUND-UP... A stray domestic black cat who formed a friendship with an Asiatic black bear at Berlin Zoo three years ago has been reunited with her pal after the bear's enclosure was enlarged. The bear - called Maeuschen ('Mouse') - was transferred to a cage in October for the duration of the work, and zoo staff took pity on the cat who wandered the zoo and sat pining outside the cage, feeding her and providing veterinary care. Now Maeuschen has been allowed back into the enclosure, so has her feline friend, and they can sunbathe together and share food again. A Dutch dog trainer has started offering lessons for people who want to dance with their dogs - not on two legs, more choreographed basic moves in time to music.

WEIRD WAR (ON TERROR) NEWS... An American Airlines pilot was detained in Sao Paolo, Brazil, this week after making an obscene gesture when authorities tried to take his photograph and fingerprints - Brazil introduced the requirement for American visitors as a reaction to similar American security demands for entrants to the USA. Abdul Rauf Noormohamed, an Indian-born US citizen has been charged with making false statements to the government after a family grudge led him to call the FBI to tell them that certain relatives of his were members of al Qaeda and planning to blow up the Sears Tower and O'Hare Airport in Chicago. A USAF F-15E Strike Eagle on a training run accidentally dropped a 25lb dummy bomb near Market Weighton in Yorkshire, England, last week - nobody was injured and there was only "limited property damage" according to a USAF spokesman. Saddam bank notes no longer legal tender in Iraq.

STORIES WHICH ALSO CAUGHT OUR EYE THIS WEEK: Man tries to return computer to shop for refund - staff find it stuffed with potatoes; many Chinese women trying to delay the birth of their children until next week when the Year of the Monkey starts on the 22nd as superstition holds that those born in Monkey years are more fortunate than in the current Year of the Goat. Woman attempting to reverse out of an upper-level parking space in a Kirchen, Germany, multi-storey car park turned too sharply writing off the Nissan next to her car and damaging the car on the far side of the Nissan before accelerating sharply, pitching over a low wall and crashing her car onto a Renault and a Citroen below, eventually coming to rest upside down on top of the Renault. English authorities considering allowing graves over 100 years old to be dug up for new burials as space runs out. Dutch Finance Ministry forbids its staff from wearing white socks. Richard Branson wants to drive across the English Channel in a Gibbs Aquada aquatic sports car. eBay pulls prank auction of West Virginia.


ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS

Film: Two Oscar screeners already leaked onto the Internet. Steven Spielberg planning Tintin trilogy. 10-minute car chase in Bullitt voted best ever (shame about the rest of the film). Loch Ness Monster horror flick planned. Bill (Love, Actually) Nighy, Martin (The Office) Freeman tapped for Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy as Slartibartfast, Arthur Dent respectively. LotR: Return of the King retains US box office #1. Kill Bill Volume 2 delayed by two months. Pirates of the Caribbean wins American People's Choice favourite film award ahead of LotR: Return of the King. Julia Roberts wins ninth People's Choice award. Sundance Festival opens - 255 shorts and features to be shown before close on the 25th. Disney shuts its Florida hand-drawn animation unit to focus on computer-generated animation; a number of the laid-off animators are to form their own company. Kevin Costner to direct and star in another western.

TV: Long-lost Doctor Who episode (Daleks' Masterplan part 2) returned to the BBC. Cameron Diaz to make travel show for MTV. Next UK "I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here!" contestants named as Jordan, John Lydon, Frank Carson, Alex Best, Jennie Bond, Peter Andre, Kerry McFadden, Neil Ruddock, Diane Modahl & Lord Brockett. BBC morning viewing figures increase after Kilroy taken off air pending review (over anti-arab newspaper article). Speculation over Friends reunion show to be filmed after regular series ends, shown at Thanksgiving; some scenes from final episode to be shot without an audience to preserve secrecy. Frasier definitely to end this year after 11 seasons. Ricky Gervais accidentally left off BBC nominations for Bafta TV awards. ITV considering daytime spin-offs from Coronation Street and Emmerdale. Reality TV socialite Paris Hilton tops Mr Blackwell's worst-dressed list ahead of Britney, Madonna, Shania Twain and Diane Keaton. NBC to start autumn season early to capitalise on Olympic coverage. Directors' Guild of America TV awards dominated by Sex and the City, Six Feet Under.

Music & Radio: British Phonograph Industry considering following RIAA and suing illegal music downloaders. CD singles predicted to be phased out within three years. Bono rejected by NFL for Super Bowl half-time show. Gary Jules to play free London gig at Oxford Street HMV on Monday. Mariah Carey to play Beirut concert. American Idol contestant throws cup of water over Simon Cowell. Avril Lavigne working with ex-Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody. Norah Jones' second album due out next month. Britney Spears blames Vegas 'atmosphere' for her wedding. Diana Ross agrees to plea-bargain in drink-driving case. The Darkness head Brit Award nominations. Boy George's Taboo musical to close on Broadway after 100 performances. Michael Jackson to face molestation charges in court today (Friday).

Books: Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien wins cybersquatting case over jrrtolkien.com domain. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix shortlisted for W.H. Smith adult fiction book award. Paul Burrell's A Royal Duty in running for best biography/ autobiography. Tokyo court brands a manga cartoon book obscene. Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese to write joint memoir about their film collaborations.

Obits: drummer John Guerin (64), comic strip artist Don Lawrence (75), actor Johnny Sands (76), Swedish actress Ingrid Thulin (77), actress Ute Hagen (84), writer Doris Lund (84), blues singer Esther Shapiro (84), actor/director/songwriter Sidney Miller (87).

TECH BRIEFS

Study shows that political campaigners should use blogs and chatroom appearances rather than email, SMS and banner ads if they don't want to alienate voters. Intervideo launches Linux-based multimedia 'entertainment centre' PC with 10-second boot time. Telcos develop system to trace 999 (911) emergency calls made from mobiles. Research into the safety of mobile phone radiation concludes they're probably safe, but more research needed. Despite lacklustre pre-Christmas sales, PS2 ownership now over 70 million. Yahoo! to drop Google in favour of internally-developed search technology. Following purchase of SuSE Linux, Novell throwing money into anti-SCO fight. SCO extending licensing threats to Europe, Oceania. Threat of Linux prompts Microsoft to delay end of Windows 98 support. Apache web server use growing, IIS in decline. Apple charging for previously free iMovie and iPhoto. Potential buffer overflow flaw in Yahoo! Instant Messenger file transfers patched on the servers (no need to download new version). MS to modify online shopping feature in Windows after fears it might breach their antitrust settlement. US anti-spam legislation has - not surprisingly - made almost no impact. Kodak to stop selling film cameras in favour of digital-only. Playboy to sue Netscape (AOL) for breach of copyright over use of 'playmate'. The Sims to launch on N-Gage. Games based on 80s hits Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and He-Man on the way. Internet bank Egg to be sold. BT unveils 1Mb ADSL for BT Yahoo! Broadband and BT Broadband at UKP40.99/month. Yet another prediction of the demise of the desktop PC - this time within two years in the corporate environment. Microsoft loses appeal against Eolas' web-embedded software patent infringement ruling, has 30 days to lodge further appeal or cough up original US$521m penalty plus US$45m interest accrued since the August ruling.

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK

This week, Big Mouth Billy Bass Hacking in Linux - making the talking fish say what you want:
http://bigmouth.here-n-there.com/

THE AMAZING NOT-QUITE-RANDOM LOTTERY PREDICTOR!

Madame Jennifer, our in-house psychic predicts the following numbers will be lucky:
10, 12, 13, 15, 16 & 36.
You can consult Madame Jennifer online at the Daily Irregular:
http://www.gizmo1.demon.co.uk/li/

AND FINALLY...

A man is shipwrecked on a desert island. When he wakes up, he sees the sky has turned purple. He looks around and notices that the palm trees are purple, as is the sea and the beach, too. Then he looks down at his clothes, hair and skin, and they are all purple. "Oh no," he exclaims. "I think I've been marooned."



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