0 NPR Sunday Puzzle: Bringing Good Things To Life

NPR Sunday Puzzle, Will Shortz
Here's the solution to last week's NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 19):

Answer: Yonkers and New York
NPR Sunday Puzzle for Dec. 26: Name a famous American from the past who has seven letters in his or her last name. Take the last two letters, plus the first four letters, in that order, and you'll name that person's profession. Who is it?
[Sample pattern:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  (last name)  /  6  7  1  2  3  4  (profession)]

Submit your answer to NPR for a chance to be on next week's broadcast and be sure to visit Jenny's Noodle next Sunday to see the correct answer!

0 O Hear the Angels'...Something

Cartman, South Park, O Holy Night
For my money, Christmas carols don't get any better than when Cartman sings "O Holy Night."

"O holy night! The something, something, distant.
It is the night with the Christmas trees and pie.

Jesus was born, and so I get presents.
Thank you, Jesus, for being born."

0 Merry Christmas from Jenny's Noodle!

Jenny's Noodle, Merry Christmas
Copyright ©Jenny's Noodle, 2010

0 How Candy Canes Are Made [Video]

Photo credit: HomeKlondike.com
O Christmas treats, O Christmas treats... O how I love thee so...

Every year I single-handedly eat an entire box, or four, of red and white candy canes. Candy canes are one of the most popular sweets of the Christmas season, but have you ever seen how the minty treats (fruity/cinnamon flavors need not apply) are made? I just want to stick my hands into that mound of meltiness and squeeze.

"So leave a peppermint stick, for Jenny Old St. Nick, hangin' on the Christmas tree."

Watch How its Made: Candy Canes, from the Discovery Channel:

0 Google's 2010 Christmas Doodle Explained

Christmas, Google Doodle
Christmas 2010 Google Doodle
When I opened the Google homepage this morning, I immediately thought — WTF? Then I began to click around.

While it's not the first interactive Google Doodle, today's Google "Holiday Card" is one of the popular search engine's more complicated designs. Five different "doodlers" began working in July and spent a total of 250 hours to produce the 17 individual portraits. Each interactive portrait depicts a holiday scene from around the world and a corresponding Google search query as follows:

> Also see: A Holiday Card From Google | The Wall Street Journal

0 Christmas Fun Fact: 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch'

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch
Image via Boston Herald
The three words that best describe you, are as follows, and I quote: "Stink, stank, stunk!"
CHRISTMAS FUN FACT: Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft, best-known as the voice of Tony the Tiger in commercials for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, was the uncredited vocalist of the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." His name was accidentally left out of the credits in the Christmas TV special based on Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, leading many to erroneously believe that the cartoon's narrator, Boris Karloff, sang the song.
Cindy Lou Who knew?

0 A Festivus for the Rest of Us!

Festivus, Seinfeld, Frank Costanza, December 23
"It's a Festivus miracle!"

Today, December 23, we celebrate the annual Costanza family holiday of Festivus.

It traditionally begins with the Airing of Grievances.
And then we come to the Feats of Strength.

And now, the story of Festivus:

0 Merriam-Webster's Top Ten Words of 2010

Top Ten Words of the Year 2010, Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster has announced the Top Ten Words of 2010, as determined by the volume of user lookups.

And the #1 WORD OF THE YEAR is... austerity

According to the language reference publisher, "austerity figured prominently in news coverage of the economic panic and protests triggered by the debt crisis in Greece."

1) austerity: enforced or extreme economy
2) pragmatic: practical as opposed to idealistic
3) moratorium: a waiting period set by an authority
4) socialism: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
5) bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a racial or ethnic group with hatred and intolerance
6) doppelganger: a ghostly counterpart of a living person
7) shellacking: a decisive defeat
8) ebullient: having or showing liveliness and enthusiasm
9) dissident: disagreeing especially with an established religious or political system, organization, or belief
10) furtive: sly, done by stealth

0 How To Enjoy the 72-Minute Earth Sandwich

winter solstice lunar eclipse
At about 1:32am Tuesday on the East Coast, night owls may notice an interesting sight in the evening sky. A rare winter solstice lunar eclipse will occur as the moon passes behind the earth. The earth will block the sun's rays from striking the moon, a phenomenon that can only occur when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned with the Earth in the middle.

The Earth’s shadow will begin to blot out the moon at 1:32am EST. During totality, when the Earth is directly between the moon and the sun, the moon will turn a rusty orange-red for 72 minutes (from 2:41am to 3:53am EST).

According to NASA:
Total lunar eclipses in northern winter are fairly common. There have been three of them in the past ten years alone. A lunar eclipse smack-dab on the date of the solstice, however, is unusual.

Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years.

"Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21," says Chester. "Fortunately we won't have to wait 372 years for the next one...that will be on 2094 DEC 21."
The next total lunar eclipse visible in the Midwest will occur on April 15, 2014 — so after you've filed your annual taxes you can gaze at the night sky and contemplate where it all went...

0 NPR Sunday Puzzle: A Cut Above Average

NPR Sunday puzzle, Will Shortz
Here's the solution to last week's NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 12):

Answer: Amway and Enron
NPR Sunday Puzzle for Dec. 19: Name a city in the United States that ends in the letter S. The city is one of the largest cities in its state. Change the S to a different letter and rearrange the result to get the state the city is in. What are the city and state?
Submit your answer to NPR for a chance to be on next week's broadcast and be sure to visit Jenny's Noodle next Sunday to see the correct answer!

0 The Digital Story of the Nativity [Video]

story of the Nativity, social media, web 2.0
Presenting the story of the Nativity as told through social media, web and mobile tools — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon, etc...

Jesus Christ, this video is creative! Oh, just watch it, for Christ's sake. I'll stop now.

0 Ad of the Day: "WikiLeaks. Butterfly Doesn't."

Butterfly sanitary pads, Pakistan, WikiLeaks
Image credit: UPI.com
A Pakistani advertising campaign for the Butterfly brand of sanitary pads is drawing attention with its topical humor slogan: "WikiLeaks. Butterfly doesn't." RG Blue Communications, the advertising agency behind the campaign, said the slogan currently appears on two billboards in Karachi with a print campaign and a third billboard on the way... (UPI.com)
Well played.

0 Let It Snow...

Winter snow scene
Image via Presurfer
Why can't I stop staring at this?

0 TIME Tags Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg as Person of the Year

TIME Person of the Year 2010, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
"For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information and for changing how we live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME's 2010 Person of the Year." TIME
At twenty-six, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is just a year older than TIME's first Person of the YearCharles Lindbergh, chosen in 1926. Zuckerberg is the same age as Queen Elizabeth, named Person of the Year in 1952.

The four runners-up were: The Tea Party, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and The Chilean Miners.

Could the magazine have chosen a more unflattering photo of Z-berg? Just sayin'.

> TIME managing editor Richard Stengel interviews Mark Zuckerberg [video]
"Like" Jenny's Noodle on Facebook

0 25 Years of 'Larry King Live' in 3 Minutes

Larry King Live, 25 years
Larry King. Photo credit: Access Hollywood
After 25 years, nearly 50,000 interviews and 7,000 shows, Larry King is hanging up his signature suspenders on Thursday night.

Larry King Live debuted on June 3, 1985, and is CNN's most watched (and currently longest running) program. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed December 16, 2010 as "Larry King Day" in honor of the final broadcast.

Take a look back at 25 years of Larry King Live in 3 minutes:

0 The Year in Film: 270 Movies in 6 Minutes

Filmography 2010, the year in movies
Watching Filmography 2010 made me realize the inferior quality of the movies released over the last year. I happen to love going to the movies, but I recall seeing, oh, just one of these films in the theater and watching only a handful others via Netflix. Still, this montage is well done and fun to watch. Presenting 270 movies in 6 minutes:

> See the full list of the films, in order of appearance

0 Top Tweets and Twitter Trends of 2010

We've already seen the Top Search trends of 2010 from YouTube, Yahoo! and Google. And now, heeeeeeeere's the Year in Review from Twitter...

Twitter trends 2010
1) Gulf Oil Spill
2) FIFA World Cup
3) Inception
4) Haiti Earthquake
5) Vuvuzela
6) Apple iPad
7) Google Android
8) Justin Bieber
9) Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
10) Pulpo Paul
(Pulpo Paul, by the way, was the famous psychic octopus that made headlines for his predictions during the 2010 World Cup. Since when was that his/its name?)

And the Most Powerful Tweet of 2010 goes to...

Twitter, Ann Curry
Congratulations to "Good morning everyone, good morning" (aka TODAY's Ann Curry).

> Remember to follow Jenny's Noodle on Twitter

0 The Eyes Have It: Mona Lisa's Identity Revealed?

Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci
"Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1503-1505.
Art historians have long speculated over the true identity of Leonardo da Vinci's iconic 16th Century portrait—the Mona Lisa. In a twist that not even Dan Brown could've predicted, researchers have made a fascinating discovery that may help identify the mysterious lady in the painting.
"Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo's initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting," said Sillvano Vinceti, the chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage.

Vinceti said that the letters B or S, or possibly the initials CE, were discernible, a vital clue to identifying the model who sat for the Renaissance artist. She has often been named as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant, but Vinceti disagreed, claiming Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in Milan.

"On the back of the painting are the numbers '149', with a fourth number erased, suggesting he painted it when he was in Milan in the 1490s, using as a model a woman from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan," said Vinceti...

(The Guardian)

0 Top 10 YouTube Videos of 2010

YouTube top 10 videos of 2010, logo
Top 10 "lists of the year" continue to be compiled and released (à la Yahoo! and Google) as we approach 2011.

And here is another such list...

Globally, as of November 2010, the most-watched YouTube videos (excluding major label music videos) were:

"Welllll, obviously" Bed Intruder is #1. But what are your thoughts on this list? Share them in the comments section.

0 Do You Have Any 'Clue' What Today Is?

Clue movie, 25th anniversary
It was Mrs. Peacock, in the study, with the revolver. Or was it Professor Plum, in the library, with the wrench?

Clue, the murder mystery known for its alternate endings, first hit theaters on December 13, 1985.

The movie had so many memorable lines, like "I... Am... Your singing telegram... (gun shot)" or "And monkey's brains, though popular in Cantonese cuisine, are not often to be found in Washington D.C." or "Why is J. Edgar Hoover on your phone?" I could go on and on.

But instead...

In honor of its 25th anniversary, here are the top funniest moments from the movie Clue:

0 December 13 is National Cocoa Day!

hot cocoa, hot chocolate, December 13
Photo credit: Real Simple
According to my Weatherbug app, the temperature here in Michigan was around 9°F with a wind chill of -4°F for most of the day. Or, WAY TOO COLD! And let us not forget the icy, snow-covered roads and subsequent sloooooow commutes to and from work.

Thus, today's food holiday probably couldn't come at a more perfect time:

December 13 is National Cocoa Day!

Did you know that "hot cocoa" and "hot chocolate" are two entirely different drinks? Many people use the terms interchangeably, or in my case, call it "hot choco" (referring to hot cocoa, I think).
Hot cocoa comes from a powder, while hot chocolate is what many call "drinking chocolate" or "sipping chocolate" — it's made from chopped bits of chocolate or small chocolate pellets that are melted (slowly and painstakingly) and then blended with milk, cream and/or or water. True hot chocolate tends to be much denser and richer than its powdery relative. (About.com)
Please pass the marshmallows!

0 Pantone Unveils the 2011 Color of the Year

PANTONE® 18-2120 Honeysuckle, color of the year
Everything will be coming up Honeysuckle 18-2120 next year. PANTONE, the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, has picked their annual color of the year — Honeysuckle, a dynamic reddish pink. From apparel and paint to home decor and appliances, Honeysuckle will be everywhere in 2011.
“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues. Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.

The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.” (via Pantone)
The 2010 color of the year was PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise. In case you were wondering.

0 Cartoon of the Day: Cat vs Internet

Cats will do anything to take their owner's attention away from the distraction of the internet...

cat vs internet, the oatmeal
cat vs internet, the oatmeal
cat vs internet, the oatmeal
> See the full Cat vs. Internet series at The Oatmeal

0 Google Zeitgeist 2010: How the World Searched

Google Zeitgest 2010, the year in search
Pronunciation: tsahyt-gahyst
Part of speech: noun
Etymology: German, from Zeit (time) + Geist (spirit)
Date: 1884
Meaning: the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era.
The Google Zeitgeist, an annual aggregation of search queries, was released this week.

"'Zeitgeist' means 'the spirit of the times', and Google reveals this spirit through the aggregation of millions of search queries we receive every day," the search engine explained.

See how the world searched Googled in 2010:

0 Crossword Puzzle Prestidigitation

seven of diamonds, magician David Kwong, crossword puzzles
"The trick with black squares is to put them under letters that often end words, like T’s and S’s..." So goes one of the tips provided by seasoned crossword creators in this week's New York Times article discussing how to construct the perfect crossword puzzle. I'm much more content to remain a puzzle solver than to become a creator, but it's still interesting to learn the roots of my obsession.

In the accompanying video, The Magician and the Crossword, crossword creator/magician David Kwong gives a puzzling performance. Be sure to watch through the end, at which point you'll surely be asking yourself — How did he do that!? No really, how!?

0 NPR Sunday Puzzle: Driven To Succeed

NPR Sunday Puzzle, Will Shortz
Here's the solution to last week's NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 5):

Answer: 96 (did you find them all?)
NPR Sunday Puzzle for Dec. 12: Rearrange the letters of "Wayne Manor" to name two well-known American corporations, past or present. What corporations are they?
Submit your answer to NPR for a chance to be on next week's broadcast and be sure to visit Jenny's Noodle next Sunday to see the correct answer!

1 Happy Hanukkah from Jenny's Noodle!

Hanukkah, Jenny's Noodle
Photo ©Jenny's Noodle, 2010
How do you like my new contemporary menorah from Target? Nice, eh? Imagine how much nicer it looked the first night of the holiday, sans wax drips that I've been too lazy to remove!

Happy Hanukkah!

0 Solving "The Saturday" Crossword in Minutes

New York Times Crossword Puzzle, Will Shortz, Dan Feyer
Photo credit: The New York Times
What can you accomplish in five minutes, 29 seconds? Dan Feyer can solve the Saturday New York Times Crossword Puzzle. That's right, the Saturday! In case you're unfamiliar, the NYT crossword becomes increasingly more difficult throughout the week — Saturday's puzzle is the most challenging. In fact, most people (not me) give up on completing it fairly quickly.

Feyer won this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and says he completes an estimated 20 crosswords a day (or more than 20,000 over the last three years). Sounds like someone I know.

> Watch the video of Feyer's 5m29s feat (using my fave puzzle-solving mechanical pencil)

> Test your solving skills on this interactive Wednesday-level crossword

0 The Temporary Contemporary Pasta Carpet

pasta, contemporary temporary carpets
Photo credit: We Make Carpets
We Make Carpets, the makers of "Temporary Contemporary Carpets," explain their pasta carpet-making process:
"The instant way of working is what connected the designers Stijn van der Vleuten and Marcia Nolte and visual artist Bob Waardenburg. Without a sketch or plan (except for the chosen material) they start working on the carpet, resulting in a concentrated process of laying the materials one by one until the finished carpet appears."
Uncooked macaroni ain't just for kiddie necklaces anymore.

pasta, contemporary temporary carpets
pasta, contemporary temporary carpets
(via BuzzFeed)

0 Personality Quiz: What Part of a Gingerbread Man Do You Eat First?

gingerbread cookies, Dunkin' Donuts
Photo credit: Food Network
As part of its annual holiday survey, Dunkin' Donuts asked more than 500 people:

"Which part of the gingerbread man cookie do you eat first?"
The results...

Head = 64%
If one chooses to bite the head first, it indicates an achievement-oriented individual, a natural leader, who won't take no for an answer.

Legs = 20%
Those who first choose the legs tend to be more sensitive, reveling in the company of others.

Arms = 16%
If the initial bite is the right hand, it reflects an individual who tends to be skeptical and pessimistic, while those who initially bite the left arm have a flare for creativity and are more extroverted.

(via Dunkin' Donuts)
I'm a leg girl. How about you?

0 Comic of the Day: Batman on "Jingle Bells"

Jingle Bells, Batman smells
Image via Daniel Baghdoian/Facebook
In related news: Earlier today, Robin issued his own statement in which he claims to be incapable of performing ornithological functions.

* * * BONUS COMIC * * *

Batman, Bruce Wayne, Wikileaks
Image credit: Randy Bish/The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review

0 The Best Gifts Ever, a Timeline [Infographic]

Best Gifts Ever, timeline, toys
(Click to view larger)                           Image credit: Milo via Geekologie
My immediate reaction: OMG! Fashion Plates! Do they still even make those? Then: I wonder what ever happened to my favorite Cabbage Patch doll and My Little Ponies? Followed by: Damn, I wish I could stay up all night playing Dr. Mario again. Sunday nights suck.

(By the way, here's the answer to my Fashion Plate query)

0 Top 10 Yahoo! Searches of 2010

Yahoo! search terms, year in review, 2010
"Since 2001, Yahoo! has been tallying up the top searches of the year, providing a snapshot of a culture in motion. Over the past decade, the No. 1 slot has been occupied by companies (music download service Kazaa), TV shows (American Idol), and celebrities (Britney Spears, often).

In 2010, some 631 million people checked in. Among the billions of queries they pursued, the story of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill led the year's top 10 — the first time that a news story has taken the No. 1 slot."

Top 10 Yahoo! Searches of 2010:

1) BP Oil Spill
2) World Cup
3) Miley Cyrus
4) Kim Kardashian
5) Lady Gaga
6) iPhone
7) Megan Fox
8) Justin Bieber
9) American Idol
10) Britney Spears
(via Yahoo!)
Sorry you didn't nab many slots, intellectual topics of any significance. Better luck next year.

0 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2010

top baby names 2010
Image credit: BabyCenter
The BabyCenter has released the 100 Most Popular Baby Names of 2010. Are you currently expecting? Then expect your child's school to have numerous little Sophias and Aidens running all around.

Jennifer was the most popular girl's name the year I was born, but alas, my name didn't even make the Top 100 this year. Did your name make the list?

Here are the Top 10 Names for girls and boys in 2010:

Girls' Names
Boys' Names
> See the full list of Top 100 Girls' and Boys' Names

0 It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas at the White House

White House, Christmas 2010 decorations, gingerbread house
A miniature of The Obama family's dog, Bo, sits on a 400-pound white chocolate-covered gingerbread replica of the White House in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Charles Dharapak/AP
The White House received its annual holiday makeover this week, with decorations that include a 400-pound white chocolate-covered gingerbread house and the official Christmas Tree centerpiece — an 18½-foot Douglas Fir.
"Mrs. Obama settled on the theme of 'Simple Gifts' for her second holiday season as first lady, emphasizing what she says are the simple things that bring joy at Christmas time, such as music, children, friends and family, and gifts made from nature." [MSNBC.com]
Watch this behind-the-scenes video as nearly 100 volunteers decorate the White House for the 2010 holiday season:

0 'I Flip My Latkes in the Air Sometimes'

CandlelightCandlelight by the Maccabeats, based on Dynamite by Taio Cruz

Warning: This song will stick in your head until the last night of Hanukkah. Possibly longer.

Happy Hanukkah!!

[via The Today Show]

0 Pic of the Day: Harry Pupper

Harry Pupper, Harry Potter, dog
Photo via The Daily What

0 NPR Sunday Puzzle: Starring S And B

Will Shortz, NPR Sunday Puzzle
Here's the solution to last week's NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov. 28):

Answer: Wayne Manor and Norway

[Note: The following includes an illustration which was not provided by NPR as part of the puzzle instructions.]
NPR Sunday Puzzle for Dec. 5:

From Sam Loyd, a puzzle-maker from a century ago:

Draw a 4 x 4 square.

Divide it into 16 individual boxes.

Next, draw a diagonal line from the middle of each side of the square to the middle of the adjoining side, forming a diamond.

And finally, draw a long diagonal line from each corner of the square to the opposite corner, forming an X.

Sam Loyd puzzle, NPR

How many triangles can you find in this figure?
Submit your answer to NPR for a chance to be on next week's broadcast and be sure to visit Jenny's Noodle next Sunday to see the correct answer!

> Like Sam Loyd puzzles? Try these:

0 The Uggcitrine Vaccination: Protect Yourself this Winter

Ugg boots, winter vaccine
"The drug companies release a new vaccine to help young women battle their puffy boot obsessions."

Watch. Learn. Tell your daughter, mother, sister and every other important woman in your life. Get the Uggcitrine vaccine this winter.

0 DIY Jigsaw Puzzle Clock

DIY jigsaw puzzle clock
Image credit: Incredible Things
Do you know what time it is? Why, it's time to buy this clock for me the puzzle-lover in your life!
"Perfect for children's rooms, this fun DIY clock comprises one central section of five jigsaw pieces plus 12 loose pieces, allowing you or your child to create whatever shape or color pattern takes your fancy."
Children's rooms? I want one!

DIY Puzzle Clock ($79.20) | Buy it here

0 Eight Crazy Nights Begins!

Happy Hanukkah 2010
Image credit: www.someecards.com
"Tell your friend Veronica, it's time to celebrate Hanukkah!"

The Festival of Lights officially began at sundown on Wednesday, so feel free to start sending gifts my way! And by gifts I do not mean "chocolate" gelt — does anyone really enjoy eating that waxy chocolate-wannabe nastiness? Don't get me wrong, playing dreidel is sort of fun. When you're five. But the prize for winning needs to drastically improve.

I'm off to light the menorah, but I'll leave you with a little present to get your first "crazy night" started...

"When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, here's a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me..."

0 Social Media Adidas Sneakers

If you get your kicks from Facebook and Twitter, these Adidas sneakers may be just your style. Unfortunately, the Superstars aren't available for purchase—yet—but judging by the response on social media sites, it's only a matter of time.

Facebook, Twitter, Adidas sneakers
Photo credit: Gerry Mckay/Behance.net

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