SUN, MON, February 3, 4, 2013

SPELLING BEE -- U.S. Immigration and Customs officers conducted "Operation Red Zone" on Super Bowl Sunday that seized over $1.3 million worth of phony NFL-logoed items including jerseys, hats, banners, and bobble head dolls.  Largest haul was a crate from China containing 750 "San Fernando 49ers" helmets and 1600 "Baltimore Raisins" sweat shirts.

NO DANCE CARD -- Lindsay Lohan disappointed fans of "Dancing With the Stars" when she flatly refused an offer of $350,000 to appear as a contestant win or lose.  And after the producers had already taken the precaution of changing the locks on the judges' dressing room doors, too.

STARTING LINE -- The Baseball Commissioner has warned teams that drug testing this year will be tougher and more frequent.  Officials realized they had severely underestimated the extent of the problem when a routine investigation revealed that those white lines around the on-deck circle are cocaine.


OBESITY-TO-GO --A Melbourne, Australia study found that employees who commute to work daily by automobile gain about one pound per year.  But there is a beneficial side effect.  Most of the weight gain is muscle accumulated by the middle finger due to frequent activity -- perfect for operating the TV remote, an ATM machine, or a high-volume slot machine.

PARTY TIME -- Archaeologists digging at a site near Xaltocan, Mexico discovered 150 perfectly preserved skulls carbon dated  sometime between 660 and 860 AD.   The skeletal remains appear to have belonged to vacationers since strings of Club Med beads were still strung around each neck.

WARMING UP -- In February 1986, we taped a Bob Hope Special in Stockholm, Sweden.  From the start it was plagued with disasters, not the least of which was the assassination of their beloved Prime Minister Olaf Palme the very night we flew out of Los Angeles.

But despite the problems, I do have one a great memory of the trip.  One night, after a long day of rehearsing, we returned to the hotel around nine o’clock. It was about 40 degrees below outside, and there was a nice fire going in the lounge, so Glen Campbell asked Gene and me if we’d like to join him for a nightcap. There was a fairly good jazz quartet — drums, two guitars, bass — that played there every night. 

We had noticed them before but were always too busy to stop. We sat at the bar for a few minutes and were recalling our day in Birdseye-ville when one of the guitar players asked Glen if he’d like to sit in for a number.  Usually, professional musicians hesitate to take anyone up on an offer like that since it’s what they do for a living and is a little like asking Picasso to sketch something on a bar napkin. But Glen isn’t your usual pro. He loves to practice chords with his own guitar and often does — in airport lounges, television studio dressing rooms, and maybe even while showering.

Glen just loves the guitar. I suspect the guy in the quartet was a big fan, knew this, and also knew that Glen would have a hard time turning him down. He was right. “Okay, just one number.” Glen took the instrument, fine-tuned a couple of strings and began picking the melody of “A Foggy Day” — the house musicians were British.  Now the bartender is on the phone — “You’re not gonna believe this... “ in Swedish, of course, but you could tell what he was saying by the
excitement in his voice. 

Several couples who had been sitting in the lobby drifted in and took a table near the bandstand. As other guests arrived, they could see and hear that something special was occurring in the bar.  Nobody headed upstairs and nobody left. Glen, as usual, was doing some astounding riffs. I asked him once how he got so damn good, and he said that as a kid, he would dream guitar chords and play them as soon as he woke up. That, my friends, is genetic. Even the owner of the guitar Glen was playing couldn’t believe the sounds he was getting out of it.

Glen’s “one number” was soon three and then five. The crowd had grown to thirty or forty people — some sitting, some standing, all mesmerized.  When he finally handed the Gibson back to its owner, the applause was enough to wake up guests in their rooms who had missed  Glen’s impromptu concert.  It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments you just never forget.  (Excerpted from THE LAUGH MAKERS)

View over 550 classic vintage video clips of Bob Hope Specials available nowhere else!  Each are dated the year they originally aired on NBC from the 1977-78 season to 1991-92.  Included are segments from 1978's "Bob Hope Down Under" from Perth, Australia and 1979's "Bob Hope in China" taped in Peking and Shanghai (with Mikhail Baryshnikov).  Take a trip down Memory Lane that you won't soon forget!

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Compiled from Bob's newsletter "Funnyside Up" published in 2000. This is a yuck and chuckle-filled stroll down memory lane to a time before the Bush administration had inflicted its damage -- a time before the search for WMDs and Osama bin Laden. See what we were laughing at back then, who was in the news and who had yet to enter rehab -- which NFL stars had yet to do time in the Gray Bar Hotel.