Vance Joy, “Riptide”

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Riptide (Atlantic, 2013)

Riptide came from Australian singer/song writer Vance Joy’s debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing from 2013. It was the EP’s second single and was then on his debut studio album Dream Your Life Away in 2014. The indie folk song described a coming of age love story. Riptide peaked at #6 in Australia and #10 in the UK. In the U.S., it topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. On the pop chart (the Hot 100) in May 2015, Riptide became the longest charting song in ARIA chart history (107 weeks, taking the title away from Poker Face by Lady Gaga). Joy has released more singles (and another album Nation for Two) which have hit various charts around the world, (though some only charted in his native Australia) including in the U.S. But Joy has yet to make a second appearance on the Hot 100.

Leona Helmsley

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Leona Helmsley (July 4, 1920 – August 20, 2007)

Leona Helmsley was an American businesswoman known for her flamboyant personality and her reputation for tyrannical behavior, earning her the nickname Qoeen of Mean.

Born Leona Mindy Rosenthal in Marbletown, New York to Polish-Jewish immigrants, her mother was a homemaker and her father was a hatmaker. After dropping out of high school, she changed her name several times finally settling on Leona Mindy Roberts, to which she legally changed her surname to Roberts. Her first husband was an attorney, her second (whom she married and divorced twice) was a garment industry executive. Here she worked for a brief time at one of his sewing factories, before she joined a New York real estate firm (where she made a small fortune for herself). Her third (and final) husband was real estate entrepreneur Harry Helmsley. Harry divorced his wife of 33 years to marry Leona in April 1972. (They remained married until his death in 1997.) Together they set up a real estate empire including a hotel chain.

Despite a net worth totalling over $1 billion, they were known for disputing payments to contractors and vendors. In 1983, the Helmsleys bought Dunnellen Hall, a 21-room mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, to use as a weekend retreat. The property cost $11 million, but the Helmsleys wanted to make it even more luxurious. The work included a $1 million dance floor, a silver clock and a mahogany card table. The remodeling bills came to $8 million, which the Helmsleys were loath to pay. A group of contractors sued the Helmsleys for non-payment; the Helmsleys eventually paid off most of the debt owed to the contractors. However in 1989 after allegations of non-payment were made by the contractors, she was investigated and convicted of federal income tax evasion and other crimes. Having initially received a sentence of sixteen years, she was required to serve only nineteen months in prison and two months under house arrest. During the trial, a former housekeeper testified that she had heard Helmsley say: “We don’t pay taxes; only the little people pay taxes,” an aphorism which identified her the rest of her life.

Helmsley’s later years were spent in isolation, especially after Harry died in 1997. He left her his entire fortune, including the Helmsley hotels, the Helmsley Palace and the Empire State Building, estimated to be worth well in excess of $5 billion. Helmsley was forced to give up control of her hotel empire, since most of her hotels had bars and New York does not allow convicted felons to hold alcohol licenses. She spent her final years at her penthouse atop the Park Lane Hotel. Although Helmsley had a reputation as the “Queen of Mean”, some considered her generous in her charitable contributions after her prison term. After the 9/11 attacks, Helmsley donated $5 million to help the families of New York City firefighters and police. Other contributions included $25 million to New York–Presbyterian Hospital for medical research.

Leona Helmsley died of congestive heart failure at the age of 87, on August 20, 2007, at Dunnellen Hall, her summer home in Greenwich, Connecticut. Cardiovascular disease ran in her family, claiming the lives of her father, son and a sister.

“Commando”

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Commando

In 1999, Johnny Ramone, guitarist and songwriter of the punk rock band The Ramones was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He began to write his autobiography. In 2004, Ramone died from said cancer. In 2012, his autobiography Commando was published. In it, Ramone shared stories of his childhood, and his life and times with the Ramones. It chronciled his relationship with Linda, including how she had initially dated his brother Joey before leaving Joey for himself. The photos included in the book were picked by Linda. The epilogue was written by close friend Lisa Marie Presley and the foreword being written by only surviving member (at that time) of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone. (Tommy died in 2014 from unsuccessful treatment of bile duct cancer.)

Coke BLAK

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Coke BLAK (Coca-Cola, 2006)

In 2006, Coca-Cola introduced Coke BLAK, a coffee-infused cola that consumers really liked. What they didn’t like was the $2 price tag for a standard 8 oz can. It slowly disappeared from American store shelves and for a time was only available in Canada for a while longer before completely disappearing in 2008.

“Mighty Heroes”

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Mighty Heroes (CBS, 1966)

The Mighty Heroes was an animated television series that ran for one season of 20 episodes starting in October 1966. Mighty Heroes was created by Ralph Bakshi for the Terrytoons company. The show took place in Good Haven, a fictitious city that was continually beset by supervillains. When trouble occurred the city launched a massive fireworks display to summon the quintet of superheroes. Each episode followed this basic premise: In the first act, the superheroes were portrayed as accident-prone bumblers, often literally being tangled together who get captured by the villains. In the second act, they escape the deathtrap by regrouping and compotently come together to win the day. So who are the Mighty Heroes? Strong Man (who has super strength and a day job as a mechanic), Rope Man (a sailor who can transform into an unending length of rope), Tornado Man (a TV weather forecaster who can spin himself into a tornado), Cuckoo Man (a bird-shop owner and is the slowest member of the team) and Diaper Man (this leader of the group is an articulate baby who uses his bottle as a weapon).

Blind Melon, “No Rain”

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No Rain (Capitol, 1993)

No Rain was the second single off American rock band Blind Melon’s debut self titled album. The song is well known for the music video which featured tap dancing “Bee Girl” Heather DeLoach. (DeLoach is not the “Bee Girl” that appears on the album cover though; that is Georgia Graham, younger sister of drummer Glen Graham.) Meanwhile, the music video received heavy airplay on MTV in 1993 and propelled Blind Melon (the album) to multi-platinum status. No Rain remains Blind Melon’s (the band) highest charting U.S. single (at #20). No Rain topped the Canadian chart and the American Album Rock and Modern Rock charts.

“Dead Silence”

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Dead Silence (Universal, 2007)

Dead Silence is a 2007 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan who also wrote the script along with Leigh Whannell (who also created Saw together). The film stars Ryan Kwanten, Judith Roberts, Donnie Wahlberg and Amber Valletta. The plot? A young widower (Kwanten) returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife’s (Valletta) murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist (Roberts). Dead Silence was produced for $20 bringing in an initial $16.5 million. Most theatres ceased showing the film 16 days after the release on April 16, 2007. Plans for a sequel were then scrapped. Worldwide the film has made just over $22 million. Despite its horrible ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, Dead Silence has developed a cult following.

#1’s

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#1’s (Columbia, 1999)

#1’s was Mariah Carey’s first compilation album and contained her then thirteen number one singles from Billboard’s Hot 100 chart as well as four new songs. (In Japan, it also included All I Want for Christmas Is You, Carey’s biggest selling single there. #1’s debuted at number one in Japan and remains the best selling album of all time in Japan by a non-Asian artist.) Though #1’s expresses all the “characteristics” of a greatest hits album, Carey dislikes the track listing, instead calling it a collection of her most commercial singles. (She wishes that the album had contained more of her “favorite songs.”) The album was also met with criticism in regards to the new songs included, namely Carey’s duet with singer Whitney Houston for The Princes of Egypt soundtrack, When You Believe. (Many people feel the entire album was just a vehicle to get the song onto a Mariah Carey album.) On Carey’s part, #1’s was meant as a sign of gratitude to her fans for giving her 13 number one singles. Despite the criticism, the album performed well peaking (and debuting) among the top ten on almost every major worldwide music market.

Federal Express Playset

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Federal Express Playset (Playskool, 1984)

Did you grow up wanting to be a mail carrier? Maybe that’s because you played with the Playskool Air Cargo Play set included a 727 style jet that had a working conveyor belt, a delivery van, cargo tractor, 2 cargo trailers, 3 package transport containers, a loading dock, seven packages and 2 bendable figurines.

National Meatball Day

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National Meatball Day (March 9)

Historians say that meatballs were first created around the 2nd century B.C. in China. Meatballs then moved slowly across the Middle East, travelling along trade routes throughout Europe. Spaghetti and meatballs are not popular amongst Italians. They are popular however with Italian-Americans. It was due to Italians going home to visit Italy that meatballs gathered favor in Italy. While we know how meatballs came to be, we don’t know who invented the holiday. But you can display for love for spaghetti and meatballs or just cocktail meatballs alone every March 9.