Actor Alec Baldwin as Santa? No, I'm not talking about his voiceover in the recently released kids' flick, Rise of the Guardians, in which he portrays North (alias Santa), an inked-up hulk with a Russian-tinged accent that perhaps reflects a childhood fascination with Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Boris Badenov.
The Hunt for Red December? (courtesy tumblr)
No, I'm talking about a monetary gift he made recently to the Adams Memorial Library in Central Falls, Rhode Island. The library, which was closed for several months in 2011 in the wake of the town's bankruptcy, received an unexpected check for the sum of $5,000 from Baldwin, his second donation in 12 months. “A year ago, Alec’s donation [of $10,000] helped us keep the doors open,” said board President Bruce Kaplan. “This year he’s helping us expand hours of operation and community programming.” The library, which is staffed mainly by volunteers, serves an impoverished community where the median household income is just over $22,000. Per capita income for the city was $10,825. Nearly 26% of families were below the poverty line, including 40% of those under age 18 and 30% of those age 65 or over. In 2010, Central Falls made the national news when the entire faculty and administrative staff of Central Falls High School was fired after the teachers' union refused to accept one of the "No Child Left Behind" options for restructuring
Baldwin, who in the past has garnered as much publicity for his cranky personality, public (and private) rants and tangles with the paparazzi as for his acting roles, has no personal connection to the town or the library.
Benevolence is definitely sexy. So the challenge is on to determine the librarian's favorite pin-up for 2013 (now that we have definitively proven that the world is not ending, at least not yet.) Mr. Gosling, the ball is in your court.
According to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world (or at least the recording of time) will end on December 21 of this year. But according to ESPN's college football talking butts, I mean heads -- oops, analysts---it already has --when Northern Illinois University's up-by-its-bootstraps football team was selected to play against traditional powerhouse Florida State University in the Orange Bowl. OMG, you would think it was the end of the world as we know it. Well, I feel fine. I have no personal connection to NIU, other than my daughter is good friends with an alumnus and my other daughter attended a speech camp there and I live about 40 minutes away from the cornfields and quadrangles of DeKalb, stomping ground of the Huskies, the newly crowned Mid-American Conference football champs.
NIU All-American Quarterback Jordan Lynch
The Huskies (12-1) polished off Kent State University this past weekend to capture their conference crown with another gritty, heads-up performance that has been their trademark for the past two seasons. As a result of the various polls (AP, Coaches, Harris, etc.), they moved up from #21 in the BCS rankings to #16, thus earning themselves a trip to Miami and bragging rights as the first MAC team to snag a bowl game berth -- and offending the sensibilities of the ESPN elite.
The Huskies take the field.
What a gnashing of teeth there was that day!
David Pollack: "I don't agree with it. I don't think that they should be there."
Jesse Palmer: "I don't think they should get to go."
Kirk Herbstreit: "The fact that Northern Illinois is in the BCS for 2012 is really a sad state for college football. They dont't deserve to be in the BCS this year. Are you kidding me? No one even knew they were playing until the Toledo game two weeks ago."
Kirk Herbstreit -- washed up Ohio State QB
No, you idiots. The Penn State/Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky travesty was really a sad state for college football. The very fact that college football is basically a semi-pro league designed to make money for universities and that its athletes live under different rules than most of the other students who toil on campus (what other high school seniors already know they are admitted to X college in August before their non-athlete pals have even submitted their college applications???) -- that's a really sad state.
Celebrating the MAC trophy
A Cinderella team like NIU making the Orange Bowl is something to celebrate. Okay, so their coach has already moved on to supposedly bigger and better things. That's just another challenge for them to rise above. Seems to me ESPN needs a visit from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to remember the hopes and dreams of the little guys, the 99% who are sweating it out and putting in the work and hoping that it will all pay off with a break, just one break. Hey, it's just football, guys. Lie back and enjoy it.
I am not one to watch the bowl games. But I think I will be tuned in on this New Year's Day. And for everyone who roots for the underdogs, wherever they may be:
shout it with me:
"I am NIU."
"We are all Huskies now!"
The first Honorary Scrooge of the Month Award goes to Sony/ATV Music for blocking a parody of Michael Jackson's 1983 hit "Beat It" from appearing on YouTube. Local high school students who frequent Lansdowne Public
Library (in Pennsylvania) and serve on its Teen Advisory Board wrote and produced “Read It,” a delightful take-off aimed at inspiring other teens and tweens to just pick up a book or e-reader and take the reading plunge. However, on November 19, just three days after the video made its debut during the dedication of the library’s Ronnie Hawkins Resource Room, they discovered that the performance had been blocked on YouTube by Sony, which administers the copyrights for Jackson's music. As you can imagine, the teens were crushed that all their hard work was going to go unseen.
Heroic librarian Abbe Klebanoff
After a week of intense lobbying of Sony executives and the executor of Michael Jackson's estate by the video’s editor, Abbe Klebanoff, head of public services for the library, the corporation finally relented and acknowledged the video's parody/educational purposes under the Fair Use Act. The video has been restored to YouTube. Who knows, perhaps the fat cat corporate types were visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past and woke up remembering what it was like to young and excited about creating something... or maybe the ghost of the king of pop himself paid them a call. Below you can see what all the fuss was about.
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