*Mornings Archives

Music News – Monday, January 4

Gwen Stefani may be a TV star and tabloid fixture now, but she hasn’t forgotten where she came from — and she revisits those roots in the video for her new single, “Let Me Reintroduce Myself.” The clip shows present-day Gwen with dozens of her past selves, sporting looks like the classic “Just a Girl” outfit and the retro “Don’t Speak” dress. Everything old is new again.

Songwriter and performer Jessie J is doing well after a recent medical scare. She spent Christmas Eve in the hospital after she went deaf in one ear and couldn’t stand up straight. She was diagnosed with a rare condition that may leave her deaf in at least one ear permanently. But she said on Instagram she’s doing fine and thanked people who reached out to her with advice.
She also took some time to sing to show it hasn’t impacted her talent. She posted a song to Instagram about how she can’t stop eating.

There’s a new documentary out about the Bee Gees on HBO Max. But one person who won’t watch it? Barry Gibb, the last surviving member of the group. In an interview yesterday with “CBS Sunday Morning,” he says it’s very “unlikely” he’ll watch the whole thing because he, quote, “can’t handle it.” His brother Maurice Gibb died in 2003. Then Robin Gibb died in 2012. The iconic trio wrote over 1,000 songs and have 20 Number 1 hits. You can watch Barry Gibb’s interview this Sunday morning at 9 ET on CBS. You can stream “The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” now on HBO Max.

Happy Headline from United Federal Credit Union – Thursday, December 24

In York, Pennsylvania, Jeff Graham and his family went to great lengths this year to brighten the holidays for other families in the community by purchasing and donating Christmas trees to those in need.
Jeff showed up at McPherson’s Tree Farm in a truck with a 22-foot-long bed and asked the employees to cut down 30 trees.
After the employees filled the truck, Jeff drove to a nearby parking lot and worked with his wife and two children to give the trees away, along with gift cards, spending about $1,000 on the trees and even more on the gift cards.
When asked about the event, Jeff explained, “We were all happy. Everybody was happy.” (USA Today)

The Daily Dish – Thursday, December 24

Dave Chappelle is opening his own comedy club.
He’s reportedly finalized a deal to purchase a former fire station in the village of Yellow Springs, Ohio and plans to convert it into a performance space and restaurant.
Chappelle lives on a farm near Yellow Springs, where his late father was a professor at Antioch College. He’s staged outdoor, socially distanced comedy shows in the area throughout 2020. (EW)

So much for those reports that Lori Loughlin might get out of federal prison in time to celebrate Christmas with her family.
The Full House star is finishing out her sentence in that college-admissions cheating scandal. A report last month said that because her release date of December 27th falls on a Sunday, she’d be allowed to go home Friday — Christmas Day.
But now TMZ reports “that was never the expectation.” So instead, she’ll be released Monday.
Hubby Mossimo Giannulli is still quarantined because of a COVID outbreak, after entering a prison in California last month. He’s due for release in the spring.

Donald Trump announced a batch of 15 presidential pardons on Tuesday, but missing from the list of exonerated men was Joe Exotic.
The incarcerated Netflix documentary star Tiger King star has been lobbying the President for a pardon for several months and is still hoping to hear some good news from Trump before he leaves office. Just last week, Joe Exotic actually sued the Department of Justice in hopes of forcing Trump to pardon him, but he later dismissed his own claim because he believes his request for a pardon is sitting on Trump’s desk.
Joe Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence for hiring a hitman to kill Carole Baskin. (TMZ)

Coffee Talk from Honor Credit Union – Thursday, December 24

Today is obviously Christmas Eve, so, you know, maybe check again to make sure you didn’t forget anyone before the world shuts down for the holiday…
The pandemic has been great for the video game business. Gaming is now a bigger industry than sports and movies COMBINED! Video game sales jumped 20 percent this year…that’s 180-billion dollars, beating out Hollywood’s best year ever in 2019. And they think gaming will only get bigger now that everyone’s trying to buy the new PlayStation and Xbox.
Is there anyone out there who DIDN’T find this garbage fire of a year stressful?
Two-thirds of us have had a personal crisis at some point this year.  And 7 in 10 Americans now say 2020 has left them feeling defeated.
Here are the five most stressful things about this year, according to the poll . . .
1.  The stress of COVID-19 in general.
2.  Not being able to enjoy things you used to do.  Like going to bars and movies.
3.  The presidential election.
4.  Having to change up your day-to-day routine because of COVID.
5.  Spending so much time stuck inside.
Misinformation about the virus also made the top ten.  And so did the constant BARRAGE of news we got thanks to the 24-hour news cycle.
Parts of South Florida are under a frost advisory, which can only mean one thing: it’s gonna be raining iguanas! This sorta thing happens at least once every winter. The iguana’s like to sleep in trees, and when it gets cold enough, they kinda freeze and plop to the ground. They’re fine once it warms up. Last year, falling iguana’s caused dented cars and even a few injuries to people.

Music News – Thursday, December 24

Rapper Diddy is making big moves for his mom’s milestone birthday! In honor of Janice Combs turning 80, the hip-hop mogul gifted her with a check for a million bucks and a brand new Bentley. Fun fact, Diddy’s twin daughters share the same birthday with their grandma. Diddy also celebrated his 14-year-old girls on Instagram. But no, they didn’t get a Bentley… or a million dollars. Maybe next year, girls.
Rihanna has been sued for copyright infringement by Canadian musician King Khan and his daughter Saba Lou.
Pitchfork reports that the pair claim Rihanna used one of the 2012 song “Good Habits (and Bad)” in a Fenty Beauty ad without permission. The song was used in an Instagram post by Rihanna advertising her brand’s accessories.
The plaintiffs have requested Rihanna no longer use the song and pay them unspecified damages. The ad was viewed 3.4-million times, according to the lawsuit.
Nickelback have made a parody version of their 2005 hit “Photograph” for a Google Photos ad, and it proves Chad Kroeger has no problem making fun of himself.
This new version pokes fun at Kroeger’s hair over the years, with the lyrics, “Falling down the photo rabbit hole/Is it my hair or just a ramen bowl.”
Kroeger says, “Fifteen years ago, we had no idea that the photos on our mobile devices would become such a ubiquitous part of all of our lives. When Google approached us with the idea about marrying the song with Google Photos we felt like it would be a fun and nostalgic way to give the song a lyrical refresh and share some of our favorite memories.”
Watch the ad on YouTube now.

The Coast Social Network with Berrien Community Foundation – Wednesday, December 23

Zack talks with Lisa Cripps-Downey from the Berrien Community Foundation, along with Anna Murphy from United Way of Southwest Michigan, about the Southwest Michigan CARES Fund, which has raised over $1.1 Million in 2020 and disbursed over $700,000 in to the community to assist with COVID relief.... [Read Full Story]

Happy Headline from United Federal Credit Union – Wednesday, December 23

It was a big year for six-year-old Summer Grace Cernoch. After battling leukemia for almost half of her life, she finished her last treatment in February — and it looks like she beat the disease.
Knowing how scary and painful the surgeries and treatments are, Summer Grace wanted to spread some holiday cheer to other kids who are still going through it, so she and her family started a foundation to help others.
The foundation raised a bunch of money in the community, which was used to buy toys. Then, last week, Summer Grace and her family drove around the area and distributed the gifts to cheer up other children who are battling cancer this holiday season.
The toy drive was a big success. So now, the hope is to use the foundation to continue brightening the days of others throughout the year with a music scholarship program for cancer patients.

The Daily Dish – Wednesday, December 23

Jennifer Lopez may never marry Alex Rodriguez.
On Andy Cohen‘s Deep & Shallow Interviews, J-Lo said that after they canceled their wedding this year, she and A-Rod have thought about staying engaged forever.
Their wedding was supposed to take place in Italy in June, but was canceled because of the pandemic.
Asked if they ever considered following in the footsteps of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who’ve never married, Lopez said, “Oh yeah, we’ve talked about that for sure. I mean at our age, we’ve both been married before, it’s like: Do we get married? Do we not? What does it mean for us? And it’s just, it comes down to like personal [choice], like: What do you want to do?”
J-Lo adds, “There’s no rush. It’ll happen when it happens.”

NeNe Leakes is going to war with Bravo.
Three months after leaving The Real Housewives of Atlanta, the reality star tweeted a link to the #BoycottBravo petition.
The petition, on Change.org, said it’s putting the network “on notice,” claiming Bravo has treated its African-American talent unfairly, specifically NeNe and Mariah Huq of Married to Medicine.
The petition adds, “This action by Bravo network is affirmation of systemic racism and inequality that the African American community faces and struggles with currently in society.”
NeNe has said “systemic racism” played a role in her departure from the show.
She called on her followers to sign the petition, tweeting, “Y’all ready to start this boycott yet? What has happened behind the scenes is WRONG! While others were being promoted, BLACK WOMEN who created shows, created genres, built franchise and built networks were being DEMOTED…TURN OFF YOUR TV’S.”

E! News says Leonardo DiCaprio may soon settle down with longtime girlfriend Camila Morrone. A source tells the network, “Leo and Cami are still going strong and doing really well. He’s very cozy with Cami and they’re serious. He is filming right now, but Leo has been settling into this domestic life with Cami, as opposed to all the time he used to spend out with his boys. He does really like his life with her and they’re a lot more coupley than they used to be.”

Coffee Talk from Honor Credit Union – Wednesday, December 23

TODAY IS:
Roots Day: A day to celebrate your family’s history, heritage, and ancestry.
Festivus Day: Time to celebrate, Seinfeld fans, because today, December 23rd, is Festivus Day.
If you never watched Seinfeld and have no idea what we’re talking about … In a December 1997 episode of Seinfeld, Frank Costanza (played by the late Jerry Stiller) reveals that he created Festivus in response to the commercialism of Christmas. The slogan is: “A Festivus for the rest of us.”
How is Festivus celebrated? Instead of a decorated tree, there is an unadorned aluminum pole. There is also a Festivus dinner – meatloaf on a bed of lettuce – during which you participate in the “Airing of Grievances,” where you tell others at the table how they have disappointed you in the past year. The celebration ends with the “Feats of Strength,” which involves wrestling the head of the household. The holiday is not complete unless the head of the household is pinned.

Hating romantic holiday movies? Holiday rom-coms are a staple of the season, but in this year of challenging dating and season of no holiday parties, is it hard for you to watch them? In fact, would you rather watch anything BUT a cheesy holiday rom-com? If you feel that way, you’re not alone. Clinical psychologist Laurie Betito told Cosmo that it’s because romantic comedies can trigger feelings of loneliness. And because plenty of singles are stuck in their apartments of parents’ home this year because of COVID, those feelings of loneliness are heightened.

Didn’t get around to sending a Christmas card this year? No problem – send a New Year’s card instead. This year, especially, people will be happy to ring in a new year … and hear from you, since being together for New Years isn’t happening anywhere. (Huff Post)

Gifts that don’t cost a dime … It’s Christmas, and we all want to give the people who mean the most to us to something they’ll love and cherish. But for many of us, things are tough this year.
Here are some gifts that are pretty awesome — and don’t cost any money at all:
  • Encouraging (and helping) someone to pursue their dreams.
  • Complimenting someone for a talent they don’t even realize they have.
  • Becoming a peaceful, calming influence in an emotionally charged situation.
  • Repairing a strained relationship.
  • Erasing a debt someone owes you.
  • Tackling a chore that someone important to you is struggling to accomplish.
Though these might seem like strange “gifts” at first, these are the kinds of things that loved ones will remember fondly for years to come. (Lifehack)

Music News – Wednesday, December 23

A federal judge in Chicago has set a new trial date for the sexual abuse charges against R. Kelly.
The trial has been tentatively set for September 13th, 2021, which is contingent on his New York trial moving forward in April. A status hearing which will confirm the trial start date in fall will be on March 25th. Kelly has served 17 months in jail at the Metropolitan Correctional Facility in Chicago and faces charges in Illinois, Minnesota and New York. (ABC News – Chicago)

Madonna posted a selfie highlighting the “beautiful scar” from hip surgery. It’s high enough on her thigh that only an intimate partner would ever see it.
Also seen in her Instagram Story was the remnant bruising from “cupping” massage therapy on her thighs.
Last month, she repaired damage from her decades of dancing on stage. At this time last year, Madonna was forced to cancel several Madame X concerts due to her nagging injuries.
She’s currently walking with a cane. But apparently is well enough, based on an Instagram post on Monday, to twerk with her adopted children. (People)

In a recent Instagram post, Pink says she was hospitalized after fracturing her ankle. She says, “As if surviving covid wasn’t enough. I was actually running down the stairs trying to see the Christmas star! Ha! 2020 is the gift that keeps on giving!”

Happy Headline from United Federal Credit Union – Tuesday, December 22

An anonymous shopper came into a Walmart in Bristol, Tennessee — and donated $65,000 to pay the balance of items placed on the store’s layaway. Amazingly, the donation was enough to pay for ALL the layaway items at the store.
The manager sent out notifications to customers, letting them know that their items had been paid off by this generous secret Santa.
And while the man who donated the money wishes to remain anonymous, he did allow the manager to pass along a message to the customers: “He wants me to tell you that he loves you, God bless you, and Merry Christmas.” (TimesNews)

The Daily Dish – Tuesday, December 22

Who needs a stimulus check when we have Kim Kardashian?
The mogul said on Monday that she’s giving away $500,000.
In a tweet, she wrote, “I know 2020 has been really hard and people are struggling, worried about how they’re going to pay rent, put food on the table, or a gift under the tree for their kids. I want to spread the love by sending $500 to 1000 people.”
For a chance to win, Kim asked fans to reply to her post with their $Cashtag and the hashtag #KKWHoliday.

Standup Comedian and former SNL writer John Mulaney has fallen off the wagon.
The comedian has checked into rehab for alcohol and cocaine addiction. According to Page Six, he’ll spend the next 60 days at a treatment facility in Pennsylvania.
The Big Mouth star, who has said he started drinking at 13 years old, didn’t fight rehab. A source says, “John’s friends and family are happy that he’s finally getting some help and focusing on his health.”
John had been sober for the last 15 years, but the lockdown was apparently too much for him. The insider explains that “unfortunately he has struggled again during the pandemic.”

OK! magazine claims Lori Loughlin’s daughters, Bella and Olivia Jade, have allegedly been partying while she and her husband are in jail. A source tells the magazine, ”The two have been “partying the pain away and have been treating themselves to ‘five-star spa retreats, drinking wine every night and enjoying fabulous dinners at high-end restaurants. Olivia was downing glassfuls of wine while binge-watching The Bachelorette while Bella was focusing on “R&R. They’re more spoiled than ever. They had nothing to do with their parent’s scandal, and figure they have every right to have fun.”

Coffee Talk from Honor Credit Union – Tuesday, December 22

TODAY IS:
National Cookie Exchange Day: A good day to share some fresh-baked cookies.

A new study from Rutgers University found that coronavirus has had a huge impact on the drinking habits of college-age students. Basically, when coronavirus forced college kids to move off campus and back in with their parents, their drinking habits were hugely curtailed.
“Drinking is a social behavior for college students, and without social interaction students are less likely to drink heavily,” says Helene R. White, lead researcher and distinguished professor emerita with the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies at Rutgers University. “Living with parents may especially interfere with social interaction with peers and thereby be protective against heavy drinking.”

Wanna get away? You’re not alone. A survey by Apple Vacations found that 84% of respondents said they’ve really missed traveling this year. How bad to people miss traveling? 63% of the people surveyed said they’d rather spend three hours every day in a TSA line than be stuck indoors for the rest of the year. And maybe this is the reason people are so anxious to travel. The survey found that the average American has gone 14 months without a vacation. For 70% of those surveyed, that’s the longest they’ve ever gone without traveling. (SWNS)

Lots of us have gotten very lax about our eating habits since the pandemic started … but that doesn’t mean we don’t have guilt about it – especially during the holidays. A new survey found that a whopping 63% said they deal with “food guilt” every holiday season. And get this – 48% of the people polled said food guilt was a bigger holiday stressor for them than family drama or finding the right gifts for everyone.

Music News – Tuesday, December 22

Taylor Swift isn’t only on top of the album charts, she’s topped the singles chart as well.
Evermore‘s first single, “Willow,” debuts at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. That makes Taylor the first person to debut atop both the album and single charts simultaneously twice. She became the first artist ever to do it when Folklore and its single “Cardigan” bowed on top in August.
This is her seventh number-one, coming after “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” in 2012, “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space” in 2014, “Bad Blood” in 2015, “Look What You Made Me Do” in 2017 and “Cardigan” from this past August. Swift is the 21st artist in the Hot 100‘s history with at least seven number-ones.
“Willow” is also Swift’s 29th Top 10 song, putting her sixth all time behind Drake (42), Madonna (38), The Beatles (34), Rihanna (31) and Michael Jackson (30).

Bono of U2Halsey and Pharrell Williams have joined the cast of the animated film Sing 2.
The sequel to the 2016 smash is set to be released December 22nd, 2021. The Hollywood Reporter says that Bono will play the lion Clay Calloway, the “world’s most reclusive rock legend.” The wolf Jimmy Crystal, played by Bobby Carnavale, tries to coax him “out of self-imposed seclusion after the death of his wife and persuade him to perform.” Halsey plays Jimmy Crystal’s daughter.
The movie will also feature the voices of Matthew McConaugheyReese WitherspoonScarlett JohanssonTaron EgertonTori Kelly and Nick Kroll.

Ed Sheeran dropped a surprise single on Monday morning.
It’s called “Afterglow” and it comes with a one-take performance video that Sheeran filmed outside. He says, “‘Afterglow’ is a song I wrote last year that I wanted to release for you. It’s not the first single from the next album, it’s just a song I love, and hope you love too. Enjoy! Have a safe and happy festive break and New Year’s. Back to dad land for me now.”
This is Sheeran’s first new music since the No.6 Collaborations Project was released in July 2019. Sheeran and his wife Cherry Seaborn welcomed their first child, Lyra Antarctica Seaborn Sheeran, at the end of August.

Happy Headline from United Federal Credit Union – Monday, December 21

A neighborhood in Chesterfield County, Virginia, went out of their way to honor UPS driver Anthony Gaskins while he was on his route. Hundreds of residents lined up alongside the road, cheering him on when he turned the corner.
Those in the neighborhood appreciate Anthony for his kindness, reliability, and that he always delivers their packages with a wave and a smile.
So, the residents showed up and gave him an emotional “thank you.” They held up signs, screamed his name, honked their horns and rang bells.
They even arranged for Anthony’s supervisors to show up and present him with a gift.
Not surprisingly, Anthony was visibly moved by the gesture. He spoke briefly to the crowd, thanking them — and then got right back to work.

The Daily Dish – Monday, December 21

Miley Cyrus has plans for New Year’s Eve. She’ll perform on ABC’s annual celebration Dick Clark‘s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2021.
Ryan tweeted an announcement on Sunday, (quote) “Ready for @MileyCyrus to put the rock in #RockinEve! 11 more days….”
Jennifer Lopez headlines the event from New York City’s Times Square. Cyndi Lauper will duet with Billy Porter from the Kinky Boots songbook. Ciara hosts the celebrations in Los Angeles, where Miley might be on New Year’s Eve. (Billboard)

Mossimo Giannulli has been placed in solitary confinement, but the fashion mogul didn’t do anything wrong.
A source tells People magazine that Lori Loughlin‘s husband has been put in “COVID-19-related protective custody as he continues to serve his five-month prison sentence for his involvement in the high-profile college admissions scandal.”
On Friday, his son Gianni revealed that his father “has been locked in solitary confinement for one full month” and has been “only let out every 3 days for a few moments to shower.”
Mossimo was booked into Lompoc federal prison, which reported hundreds of COVID-19 cases in the summer, on November 19th.

George Clooney finds it physically painful to watch ‘Batman And Robin’. The New York Post quotes him as saying, “The truth of the matter is, I was bad in it. Akiva Goldsman wrote the screenplay, and it’s a terrible screenplay, he’ll tell you. I’m terrible in it, I’ll tell you. Joel Schumacher, who just passed away, directed it, and he’d say, ‘Yeah, it didn’t work.’ We all whiffed on that one”. People magazine, citing ‘The Howard Stern Show’, claims George Clooney told Ben Affleck not to play ‘Batman’. George says, “Ben called me up and said he’d been offered ‘Batman’ and asked if he should take it. I told him no to go near the role. Ben didn’t listen to me, and he ended up doing a great job and I was wrong. But hey, I can only impart my wisdom from my experience and I just said, ‘Don’t have nipples on the suit.’ “

Coffee Talk from Honor Credit Union – Monday, December 21

TODAY IS:
Humbug Day: Today is a day to release the stress of the season – by embracing your inner Scrooge.
Winter Solstice: It’s the shortest day of the year and officially the first day of winter.

Were you on the naughty or nice list this year? Seems most Americans think they belong on the nice list. A YouGov poll revealed that 75% of people surveyed said they are definitely on Santa’s nice list for 2020. Of course, that was self-identified, so we’ll really see how things go this Friday morning…

Are you a terrible gift giver? Two in five people surveyed admitted that they are terrible gift givers. 60% said they always struggle to find the perfect gift and 51% wait until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping. OK, bad gift givers, your gifts aren’t THIS bad … are they? According to the survey, here are some of the worst last-minute gifts people have purchased:
  • A jar of peanuts
  • An oven mitt
  • Windshield wipers
  • A bottle of shampoo
  • A Chia pet
  • Mouthwash
  • Toilet paper
  • Multivitamins
  • Plastic silverware

How often do you start sentences with “When this is all over …”? A new survey found that 40% of adults said they start at least one sentence every week with those words. 13% of those polled said they say the phrase every day. (SWNS)

And… How often do you tell yourself this is the day, week, or month that you are going to start eating healthy? A new survey found that the average person promises themselves four times a month they are going to start eating healthy … but they never do. So why do people never follow through with their diet plans? 37% of respondents said they quit a diet because they hated cutting out foods they love. 35% said the diet they tried was too restrictive for them to stick with. 69% of those surveyed said not seeing results soon enough made them quit. And 73% admitted that giving in to junk food cravings derailed their dieting attempts.

Music News – Monday, December 21

Ariana Grande is engaged. This time around, the guy is Los Angeles real estate agent Dalton Gomez. The couple started dating in January then quarantined together.
An insider told People magazine (quote) “They couldn’t be happier, they’re just so excited. This is a happy time for them, both sets of parents are thrilled.”
Ari and Dalton announced the engagement Sunday morning on Instagram. She flashed her huge diamond ring with the caption (quote) “Forever n then some.”
Her manager, Scooter Braun, commented (quote) “Congrats to these two amazing souls. Ari we love you and could not be happier for you. Dalton you are a lucky man.” (People)

Days after blasting Shia LaBeouf for “tricking” her into sleeping with him even though he was involved with someone else, Sia has gotten revenge — by firing him from her new movie.
Sia tells Australia’s Studio 10 that she booted him from Music because of the incident, replacing him with Kate Hudson. She says, “I asked for a meeting with her, and she said she was born to do it. She could sing, she could dance, she could do it all.”
Accusations against Shia started piling up after his ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs accused him of “relentless abuse” including sexual assault.

Sir Paul McCartney revealed that Taylor Swift shifted the Evermore album release date — twice — so not to conflict with his, McCartney III.
The pair connected for the Rolling Stone cover photoshoot. Each shared what projects were on the horizon. Taylor privately told McCartney about her secret album. Out of professional respect, she did not want to overshadow his latest release.
Paul recalled an email exchange with Taylor during an interview with Howard Stern. (quote) “She said, ‘I found out you were going to put yours out on December 10th. So I moved Evermore to the 18th.’ Then she found out we were coming on the 18th and moved hers back to the 10th. People do keep out of each other’s way. It’s a nice thing to do.” (NME)

Furry Friends Friday from the Mason Jar Cafe with Artemis from Cass Co Animal Control – December 18

It’s Furry Friends Friday from The Mason Jar Cafe!
 
Meet Artemis! If you’re searching for a companion to keep you warm during the winter months, then Artemis may be the cat for you! Artemis was brought in as a stray, so unfortunately we do not know much about his past. Artemis is an adult unaltered male with a sweet demeanor. He enjoys daily scratches and lying around in his comfy bed. Please contact Cass County Animal Control/Shelter at 269-446-3701 for more our very handsome fellow, Artemis.

Happy Headline from United Federal Credit Union – Friday, December 18

A Secret Santa is surprising essential workers across the country with Christmas cash.
This Secret Santa — of course — wishes to remain anonymous. It is known by those who help him with his mission that he’s a businessman.
In years past, he personally handed out hundreds of $100 bills to random strangers.
But this year he had a different idea — to mail packages to carefully selected essential workers across the nation.
For example, Kimberly Davis, who cleans rooms at a hospital in Houston, Texas, received $1,000 cash.
So did Ashton Dooley, a sanitation worker from Sarasota, Florida, and Elgin Thrower, a security guard from Kansas City.
In the coming weeks, this Secret Santa has promised to give away $100,000 — all to total strangers.
The man says he’s just trying to give away kindness, with no expectation in return. And along the way, he’s changing the lives of those who are receiving his special gifts in the mail.

The Daily Dish – Friday, December 18

Tom Cruise has had enough on the Mission: Impossible set. He’s shutting down production early.
A source on the movie set revealed, (quote) “Tom decided he’s ready for a break. They will wind up filming for 2020 on Friday. Then Cruise flies to Miami over the weekend on his private jet to spend Christmas with his son, Connor.”
This was an abrupt change in the schedule after tensions flared this week on the movie set. Cruise had back-to-back days with outbursts. At least five crew members abruptly quit rather than work under abusive conditions.
Cruise decided in his role as producer to give the cast and crew an early Christmas break. The hope is that everybody returns in a better mood. (The Sun, UK)

Ellen DeGeneres is recovering from COVID with severe back pain. Meanwhile, one of her previous guests chose to quarantine far away from his pregnant wife and their three-year-old toddler.
Leslie Odom Jr. appeared on The Ellen Show just one day before she tested positive. He’s not taking any chances in spreading the infection to his family.
Odom Jr. won a Tony Award for playing Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical Hamilton. This winter, he stars in the movie One Night in Miami. On Friday, Odom will tell The Today Show in a pre-taped interview, (quote) “The virus can affect pregnant ladies differently. We’re doing our best. I got my mask in the house — double-masking in the house.”
Odom could be free for Christmas, if he remains virus-free, after a 10-day quarantine. He taped with Ellen on December 9th. (E! News)

OK! magazine says a romance may be brewing between former SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston. A source tells the magazine,  “Jennifer always says Jason makes her laugh the way no else can. Oh, Jason would love to ask her out. But so many folks in their inner circle think they’re perfect for each other, and they’ve already done kissing scenes to know the lay of the land.” Jason recently separated his engagement from actress Olivia Wilde. The two have starred in several movies together in the past 10 years, including their roles in Mother’s Day, and We’re the Millers.

Coffee Talk from Honor Credit Union – Friday, December 18

TODAY IS:
Answer the Phone Like Buddy the Elf Day
Here are just some of the ways you can greet people today …
  • “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
  • “I am a cotton-headed ninny-muggins!”
  • “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”
  • “You did it! Congratulations! World’s best cup of coffee! Great job, everybody! It’s great to be here.”
  • “You stink! You smell like beef and cheese. You don’t smell like Santa.
  • “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”
  • “You sit on a throne of lies.”

You really do need to wake up and smell the coffee … As we all know by now, one of the symptoms of COVID-19 is losing your sense of taste and smell. Well, now experts are suggesting you do a little “self test” in the morning – by seeing if you can smell the coffee. According to James Schwob, a professor of developmental, molecular, and chemical biology at Tufts University School of Medicine, “One of the things that can be done pretty easily, pretty objectively by someone at home would be to take some ground coffee and see how far away you can hold it and still smell it.” (Delish)

For those of you looking to get quick and easy access to a COVID vaccine, The Chicago Tribune says Walgreens and CVS believe covid-19 vaccines will be available at their stores beginning this Spring. The shots will be available by appointment only.

Well, here’s one bright spot in what has been an awful year … Seems Americans exercised a lot more in 2020. According to research by fitness tracking app Strava, there were big increases in running and cycling as well as walking, hiking, yoga, weightlifting, and water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. According to the company, 2 million new users joined the free app every month this year, and more than 1 million joined Strava’s monthly 5K challenge in May – that’s the most ever for a single challenge on the app.
And women were the driving force for the uptick in exercise. According to app data, between April and September, women between the ages of 18-29 had a 45% increase in the median number of activities uploaded to the tracker compared to a 27% increase by men in the same age group. Women were also cycling more, with a 72% increase in bike rides logged compared to 2019. (ESPN)

And, in the strangest headline I’ve read today, The NY Daily News says Pepsi is launching a new chocolate soft drink called Cocoa Cola. The company released a statement saying, “There is nothing more classic than hot cocoa on a winter day, but this year has been anything but typical. So why not bring together the delicious taste of a Pepsi with the delicious, wintry taste of chocolate and marshmallow and bring some unexpected joy to our fans this season? We are confident we nailed Pepsi ‘Cocoa’ Cola and can’t wait to get this in the hands of cola fans this winter.”